The double rainbow arcing over the stage lingered for 40 minutes, dazzling an already captivated crowd at Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
“How y’all doin’?” asked Gary Clark Jr., the talented torchbearer of Texas blues. “Because you sure look beautiful.”
Clark Jr.’s piercing riffs – a swampy blend of R&B, psychedelic shredding and Eddie Hazel-funk – seemed to keep the glowing spectacle both aloft and afire. While the rainbows eventually faded, the incendiary sounds continued with the Tedeschi Trucks Band.
See photos below of Tedeschi Trucks Band’s 2013 show at Red Rocks
Returning for a third year in a row between Red Rocks’ storied sandstone fins on Friday, the 11-piece unit from Florida delivered a comprehensive survey of Southern rock, elevating nearly every aspect of the all-embracing blues genre.
Slide guitar virtuosos Derek Trucks provided the moody, moaning licks while his wife Susan Tedeschi offered her ragged, soulful vocals in an energized display that riled the rainbow-dazed venue. Whirling gusts added to the throb, swirling the tones from Trucks’ Gibson and adding an ethereal flair to Kofi Burbridge’s flute. “Idle Wind,” with double-duty Burbridge delivering on both keys and flute, highlighted Trucks’ subtle fingerpicking and Tedeschi’s soaring voice in a symphonic peak.
Marriage is about flow; a delicate balance of give and take, often conducted on the fly. The institute is embodied in the work of Trucks and Tedeschi. If there are moments when a listener thinks a show is maneuvering toward Tedeschi’s sing-along script, her husband steps up with his Eric Clapton-meets-Duane Allman riffing; a momentum-building style that stalks in the background before exploding. When Trucks appears to be dominating, Tedeschi takes the wheel with her trademark howl. In the end, the pair navigates a tightrope that champions both their skill sets, a rare balance in today’s self-indulgent, guitar-god rock scene.
The shimmering “Midnight in Harlem” – from the Tedeschi Trucks Band’s 2011 debut album “Revelator” – saw Trucks’ sublime cascade of chords prowling every corner of the tune, masterfully bridging his wife’s growling vocals with Burbridge’s unassuming Hammond B-3. Trucks’ most brilliant pinnacles seem to arrive when least expected, like in those fleeting handoffs, with his searing slide elevating everyone on stage.
Punchy lines from the brass trio and dueling drummers bolstered Trucks’ riffs, while backup singers Mike Mattison and Mark Rivers did the same for Tedeschi’s vocals. “Bound For Glory” saw Trucks – a veteran of the stage for more than 20 years despite his youthful age of 35 – unleash his blond locks, joining his wife in a brassy anthem of hair-whipped jamming.
The final set – or maybe it was it a five-song encore? – was the highlight of the evening, with Tedeschi’s stirring take on John Prine’s aching “Angel From Montgomery” spilling into Jerry Garcia’s “Sugaree.” The soul-laden plunge veered into Derek and the Domino’s “Keep On Growing,” with Trucks channeling slide guitar’s greatest innovator Duane Allman in a boogie-down crescendo. Following an uptempo twist on “Eleanor Rigby,” Tedeschi finally unveiled her monumental talent on guitar in a smoking adaptation of Freddie King’s “Living in the Palace of the King.”
Trading leads with a jam-cajoling Trucks, Tedeschi teased some of the strongest licks of the night, stepping into swift, deep blues and revealing a six-string strength she has cultivated in her 13 years married to a once-in-a-generation guitar talent. It’s fun to imagine the parents of two kids lounging on their living room couch trading phonic ideas that will soon electrify audiences as much as they did Friday night at Red Rocks. Maybe it takes a marriage to conjure such brilliance.
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