Tuesday, November 10, 2009

the midnight ramble

The Set List:

Simi -- electric violin
Simone -- acoustic guitar
Bobby/Chicken -- bass
Nowell/Deacon -- drums (Levon Helm's kit(?))

If you ever get famous
The morning that I get to hell
Don't wake the scarecrow (with "Palenville" included in the lyric)
Suzanne (with Chicken on guitar, Deacon on bass, Simone on drums, included Simone dancing about the stage with various other band members, and the great ending duet between Simi & Bobby)
Union Street
Radio Song (with Simi on tambourine, the band sounded very tight and well-rehearsed on this number, with outstanding vocals and harmonies)
--> Helpless (with Deacon contributing a too-short, but outstanding rap)

three hours later, the encore was a song by The Band,
The Weight
Simone was tapped to sing at the last minute, and sang the first two verses, with Bobby chiming in on Simone's mic, and Larry Campell on the middle mic, and Simi sharing the third mic with Teresa Williams and Amy Helm. Third verse sung by Dave Keyes (the amazing piano/organ/accordion player sitting in with the Levon Helm band that night), final verse by Teresa & Amy. Simi played a solo on Larry Campell's fiddle, and Howard Johnson played a tuba solo, during the song.

Said one fan, "Those 7 songs were polished until they shone, but they did not lose any of their intensity. In fact, at one point in "Don't Wake the Scarecrow," Simone practically lost the vocal in a sort of guttural choke, he was so intense. The interplay with Simi adds a lot to the performance too."

another added; "D&K appeared well-rehearsed, they all gave stunning performances, and the 40 minutes flew by much too quickly. The band was tight, focused, powerful, and putting out so much energy, that during their set, I got the mental image of them playing to a huge stadium full of fans -- we witnessed rock stars, giving superior performances of their craft, last night on that stage."

The Levon Helm Band followed with a two hour set featuring:
The Shape I'm In
Such a Night
Long Dark Veil
Deep Ellum Blues
Attics of My Life (Grateful Dead)
Tennesee Jed (Grateful Dead)
All on Mardi Gras Day
Natural Anthem (Jesse Ed Davis tune, featuring Howard Johnson on large sax)
Do Right Woman (Gram Parsons)
Across the Great Divide
Remedy (featuring Jim Weider)
It Makes No Difference
Chest Fever
The Weight, featuring The Duke & The King

I can't understate the precision and quality of the performance. Their harmonies and vocal arrangements were as good as anything you might see from the great vocal groups they can be compared to; CSNY, Fleetwood Mac, Beach Boys ect. I heard one man in the lobby murmering that the music sounded like Brian Wilson's, cause it had a spiritual quality. This is something I told Simone. The Beach Boys music was really Gospel disguised as surf songs. These Songs are similar. Additionally these guys have what none of those vocal supergroups ever had, Nowell Haskins. The Big Man, delivers vocal home runs, and provides such such a potent contrast to Bobby and Simone, it makes the sound unique. It's their hook.

Still, There were a lot of big stars in that small room, maybe two or three that will one day be enshrined in the rock and roll hall of fame(yes I think Larry Campbell should and will get in), but the biggest star in that place was Simone Felice. No question. It was good to see a star take his rightful place in the galaxy.