The things that make Tedeschi Trucks Band a murderer’s row of music makers were crammed into the final 40 minutes of the group’s Nov. 9 show in Columbus.
It started with Susan Tedeschi – Gibson Les Paul over her shoulder – fronting a four-piece version of the band on John Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery.” Stripped to guitar, bass, keys and a single drummer, one-third of TTB provided hushed backing to Tedeschi’s powerful vocals and even fit in a woodwind solo as keyboardist Kofi Burbridge transformed himself into a temporary flautist.
As the TTB singers re-emerged from the wings, Tedeschi sung the first verse and chorus of the Grateful Dead’s “Sugaree” before dropping back into Prine’s number and topping off the sandwich. A sublime moment in an evening full of them, this led to a full-band rendition of the original “Bound for Glory,” Derek Trucks’ slide and the Tedeschi Trucks horns blazing as the dual-drumming rhythm section locked in and loaded up. Singer Alecia Chakour had a glorious – that was intended – solo spot and the song wound up closing the main set.
For the encore, rather than turning to a well-known favorite, TBB lit up “Shame,” an unreleased barnburner that’ll appear on the group’s next studio LP, due in early 2019. Raging for more than 10 minutes, the multi-part song found Tedeschi shredding her brassy pipes, Trucks strangling his Gibson SG and the band’s vocal and horn sections proving they – even if they sit out portions of the show – are as key any another other players to the band’s uniqueness.
Tedeschi Trucks Band’s sold-out show in the Palace Theatre marked Tedeschi’s 48th birthday and audience members shouted well-wishes at her all night until the crew surprised her with a cake – and the band played the hottest version of “Happy Birthday” you’ll ever hear – midway through the 80-minute second set.
The 12-piece band begun its “An Evening With” show just after 8 p.m. with a 55-minute opening set that set the table for what came later. Singer Mike Mattison wailed the blues and crooned jazz when he joined Tedeschi on incendiary renditions of “Key to the Highway” and “Right on Time,” the front woman got introspective on Bob Dylan’s “Going, Going, Gone” and the group wound up powering through yet another spell-binding concert of originals and covers that spanned the past 100 years of music and its myriad styles.
Though TTB use a setlist, it’s different every night and there is still a lot of room for on-the-fly improv. This becomes evident when Trucks walks over to the horn section and cues soloists for a guitar-trombone-trumpet-sax round-robin or when Tedeschi keeps an eagle eye on her guitar-slinging husband, waiting to see whether she should start singing or playing her own solo or whether he’s so lost in the music he’s going to play a few extra bars.
All of this might lead folks who’re unfamiliar with TTB to ask a few questions, such as:
Is Tedeschi Trucks a soul band?
Does Tedeschi Trucks play psychedelia?
Is Tedeschi Trucks a rock ‘n’ roll band?
Does Tedeschi Trucks play jazz?
Is Tedeschi Trucks a blues band?
And these questions are answerable with one emphatic word: