On Tuesday night, Tedeschi Trucks Band brought their dynamic brand of blues-rock virtuosity to the City of Brotherly Love for the first time this year. On the heels of the February 15th release of their new album Signs and the passing of their beloved keyboardist and flutist Kofi Burbridge on the very same day, last night’s performance at the newly reopened Met Philadelphia (formerly the Philadelphia Metropolitan Opera House) was tight as a drum and full of spirit. For a relatively large and decadent theatre venue, the tightly stacked mezzanines, wide stage, and plush seating nevertheless delivered an intimate concert experience. Excitement in equal measure for the new venue and award-winning ensemble ensured that the energy in the space was absolutely palpable even before the music started.
The band opened the first set with “I Want More”, a setlist staple from 2016’s Let Me Get By, which saw Derek Trucks warming up his lead guitar chops as he filled the spaces between his wife Susan Tedeschi’s vocal phrasing. Trucks then broke out his trademark slide for rollicking favorite “Do I Look Worried”, with the band exploring its dynamic boundaries for the evening in terms of volume and intensity. The song’s tightly rehearsed and sharply abrupt ending briefly convinced more than a few that the power had gone out.
The group then drew material from new album Signs for the next couple of tunes: “When Will I Begin” proved equal parts tender and fierce, while “I’m Gonna Be There” exuded celebration and catharsis. “Sit down up there!” an older lady yelled at the crowd during a break in the music. A good-natured smattering of voices shouted in reply, “You stand up back there, this is rock and roll!”
Covering the Delaney & Bonnie tune “Comin’ Home” gave Tedeschi her first chance to wow the crowd with her own formidable soloing as well as showcased Trucks’ blues licks in a raging, extended outro. Former Derek Trucks Band singer Mike Mattison then took over lead vocal duties for a rendition of Lee Dorsey’s blues classic, “Get Out My Life.” Tedeschi used her freedom from the microphone to take a wah-pedal driven solo, leading the band through an improvisational section which also saw renowned keyboardist Gabe Dixon and trombonist Elizabeth Lea wow the crowd with instrumental acrobatics.
The pairing of the soulful “It’s So Heavy,” featuring saxophonist Kebbi Williams, and the pounding blues rocker “Signs, High Times” saw the band hit its first-set stride. They kept up the pace through set closer “Idle Wind,” which featured standout moments from nearly every band member and a captivating percussion breakdown.
Tedeschi launched right into Willie Nelson’s “Somebody Pick Up My Pieces” to start the second set, with Trucks exercising masterful restraint in a tasteful solo that served the song well. The band then followed Dixon’s organ stylings right into their popular version of Spooner Oldham’s gospel-soaked “Sweet Inspiration.” The audience anthem of the night came with a powerfully-delivered “Laugh About It,” which preceded straightforward country-tinged rocker “They Don’t Shine.”
Next, Mattison and Tedeschi dueted on “Right on Time” before the group launched into the funk-driven “Anyday,” which saw Trucks and Dixon trading blistering licks. Trucks went on to channel B.B. King’s clean, trebly guitar tone in a polished cover of “How Blue Can You Get,” before ending the second set with a power pairing of album title tracks: “Made Up Mind” and “Let Me Get By.” The band left the audience thoroughly satisfied with the encore performance of Little Milton’s “More and More” and Joe Cocker‘s “Let’s Go Get Stoned”, bringing to a close a memorable night full of new music in a new venue. Catch the Tedeschi Trucks Band at the Alabama Theatre in Birmingham, AL, on Thursday, February 28th, 2019, and head to their website for more upcoming dates.
Setlist: Tedeschi Trucks Band |Met Philadelphia | Philadelphia, PA | 2/26/19
Set 1: I Want More, Do I Look Worried, When Will I Begin, I’m Gonna Be There, Comin’ Home, Get Out My Life, It’s So Heavy, Signs, High Times, Idle Wind
Set 2: Somebody Pick Up My Pieces, Sweet Inspiration, Laugh About It, They Don’t Shine, Right On Time, Anyday, How Blue Can You Get, Made Up Mind, Let Me Get By”
Encore: More and More, Let’s Go Get Stoned