On Friday night, as Anders Osborne was wrapping up his 90-minute appearance at the venerated Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River, Mass., the New Orleans singer-songwriter/guitarist had one more surprise. Osborne, accompanied for his set by guitarist Connor Kennedy, welcomed a third guitar-player, opening artist Greg Loftus, as the trio performed a rendition of the Grateful Dead’s “Friend of the Devil” as an encore. As he cued up the lyrics on his tablet and invited the capacity crowd to sing along, Osborne remarked with a smile, “Everybody needs a little Dead in their life.”
The finale followed a sharply executed set from Osborne and Kennedy, interspersed with playful stories from Osborne about his grandmother, wife, and son. The two ran through a collection of more recent favorites of Osborne’s career- as he noted, now entering a fourth decade- and opened with a chugging, up-tempo take on “Flower Box,” with the pair on acoustic guitars. Kennedy alternated six-strings throughout the evening, offering some tasteful electric guitar work on an early “Fools Gold,” a beautifully atmospheric “Spotlight” mid-set, and later during “On the Road to Charlie Parker.”
For his part, Osborne was the ideal rhythmic counterpart, anchoring each effort with nuanced timing and flair- at one point, removing his harmonica stand from around his neck in between strums: “Didn’t miss a beat,” Osborne chuckled. Strong of voice in range and impact, Osborne moved fluidly between quieter reflections, such as “My Son” and “Lucky One,” and more raucous grooves as on “Back On Dumaine,” “Wind,” and “Lafayette.”
Osborne completed his fall tour with a stop at Infinity Music Hall in Hartford, Conn., and joins the Allman Betts Family Revival tour next week. For information, visit andersosborne.com.