If Live from the Fox Oakland, the second live album in Tedeschi Trucks Band’s catalog of five releases, seems to arrive somewhat soon after the previous Everybody’s Talkin’ (taken from concerts in 2012), there are notable differences between this latest and its predecessor. For one, this set is from a single show recorded September 9, 2016 at the Bay Area theatre, and filmed for a companion DVD. Additionally, there have been a few personnel changes in the intervening years, and an expansion of the once-11-piece ensemble to an even dozen.
As well, for a group that values and cultivates its performances as much as Tedeschi Trucks Band does, earning a reputation as one of the finest live bands on tour, it would seem that any concert recording is destined to contain an electrical storm of in-the-moment thrills. Live from the Fox Oakland thunders and flashes, and never disappoints.
Be it on an explosive blitz through Derek and the Dominos’ “Keep on Growing” or layering Santana’s “Soul Sacrifice” into “I Want More,” Derek Trucks pays tribute to two of rock guitar’s Rushmore, but really he’s giving his audience motivation to break out the chisels and make some more space on the mountain. With signature guitar work that always finds more sonic space to explore while, at once, burrowing his roots of reverence for blues pioneers ever deeper, Trucks has reached the mantle of that special player who can be detected upon hearing one note. For her part, Susan Tedeschi’s whisky tone and stinging guitar are as robust as ever, leading the group on the shredding blues of “I Pity the Fool” or with a pacifying caress on “These Walls,” the latter featuring guest Alam Khan on sarod. As sterling as these two are, they are equally egalitarian, spreading around the spotlight, whether to vocalist Mike Mattison on Taj Mahal’s classic “Leavin’ Trunk” or newcomers Ephraim Owens (trumpet) Elizabeth Lea (trombone), or singer Alecia Chakour for their respective moments in the sun.
The DVD serves as a concert film, interspersed with excerpts from parking lot cook-outs and interviews with Trucks, mostly, and Tedeschi. It contains the bulk of the Fox show, including a “Color of the Blues” not on the CD and an over-the-credits, backstage rendition of Bob Dylan’s “You Ain’t Going Nowhere” that sneaks in a Chris Robinson cameo. Even patriarch and merch manager Chris Trucks gets in the act, proudly and politely hawking T-shirts and talking up fans.
Live from the Fox Oakland is this band’s declaration of solidarity in song; a musical statement written and signed by no one individually, but by Tedeschi Trucks Band as a collective, proving, once again, a glorious and gritty strength in numbers.