Monday, October 27, 2008
Here's my mini-review of Friday's show at the Congress Theatre in Chicago. It can also be seen on TimeOut Chicago's blog. Black Thought, please wife me.
No matter what the context, where the venue, or who they are opening or headlining for, each and every single time that I have had the privilege of seeing Philly’s finest live (Friday night’s show at the Congress Theatre being my 18th), they have delivered. And by “delivered” I don’t just mean that they sounded as good as they do on their albums, or that they had engaging stage presence, exuded flawless musicianship or improved on their recorded catalogue. By “delivered,” I mean that every time I see them, they make me understand just why it is that people make and perform music in front of a live audience in the first place. Simply put, the Roots remind me why I love live music.
Choice cuts off of their Blade Runner-esque album Rising Down (“Get Busy,” “Criminal”) were interspersed with classics from Do You Want More?!!!??! (“Proceed,” “Mellow My Man”) and Things Fall Apart (“Next Movement,” “Step into the Realm” and of course, their second most famous song, “You Got Me,” which featured the lovely Estelle, whose set I unfortunately missed, on Erykah Badu’s chorus and then it transformed into a ten minute opus at the Hendrix-like fingers of guitarist Captain Kirk, as he took over vocal duty during his face melting solo and scatted us through “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and “Who Do You Love,” before bringing us back to worrying about what club he went to with his homies) and an especially exquisite and goose bump inducing Fela Kuti tribute was performed during Rising Down’s Afrobeat inspired “I Will Not Apologize,” adding a significant amount of funk and brass (courtesy of sousaphonist and Brass Heaven alum Damon “Tuba Gooding Jr.” Bryson). As always, the J.B. like tightness of the group (which would make ?uesto either James Brown or Fred Wesley, maybe both) kept the hour and a half set rolling at a perfect pace; each song got ample and special treatment, but there were no unnecessary pauses, shout outs or unwanted insights, and the unabashed joy that this twenty-year old group has playing together could not be contained. Cholly Atkins would be damn proud of the two-step that bassist Owen Biddle, Douglas and Bryson had going on.
And oh, some group from upstate New York that Patrick Stump shit out while he was listening to a Limp Bizkit record opened.
Top left, the best picture ever taken.