Percy Hill- The Webster, Hartford, CT 5-11
Set I: Shining on Creation > Open Up > Make Believe,
Slave, Soul Sister, Wrong Side, The Now, Sooner or
Set II: Don't Think About It, 313, After All, Where
the > Streets Have > No Name, A-Maze, Chrissy Reid E:
Percy Hill returned to the Webster for a night of
music that was, by all accounts, move heavily steeped
the broth of improvisation than their last show at the
venue in March. The house was nearly as crowded as
that late winter show, but a good sized crowd still
filed onto the dance floor to get down with the New
Hampshire quartet. One thing is for certain: Hartford
loves the sleek porno funk.
The band hit the stage early, and I unfortunately
missed the "Shining On" > "Open Up". I really wanted
to hear both tunes, but the rest of the show did not
disappoint. The venue was clearly deep in the groove-
just a feeling in the air. People continued to file in
throughout the next couple of tunes and by the end of
the set the joint was jumpin'. "Make Believe" was
solid, as was Slave. The sound quality was excellent,
everyone sounding clear in the mix. The last time I
saw Percy at the Webster I thought it was a bit bassy
but this show sounded great. One of the real
highlights was "Soul Sister". During the "acid jam"
John led the quartet, relying heavily on the pedals.
It turned into a sick techno jam with Nate and Joe
tooling around. Twice I saw John turn around and look
at Nate before going back to the pedals and continue
to beat out the groove.
"Wrong Side" is one of my favorite tunes, with its
broad organ layers and slow building jam. This version
was a bit shorter than most, but very nicely done.
John's funk down at the end was met with great warmth
from the crowd. The intro to "The Now" was nicely
textured, with Aaron singing "You gotta feel the
rhythm, living in the moment." A nice bit of improv.
Another favorite, it sent me soaring. The final drop
out of "this gift of life" exploded! The archival
"Sooner or Later" was unfamiliar to me, but featured
extended jamming in the center. What was most
enjoyable, however, was the many dips and segments in
the intro and ending. The playing was precise and
incredibly skillful. An excellent closer to an
The second set featured a nice "Don't Think About It"
opener and a fine "313". Nate came out dressed in a
robe and giant muppet head, wandered about for a bit
and climbed up on the keyboard riser. It was great to
see the band joking around and having fun.
The crowd really enjoyed the straightforward cover of
"Where the Streets Have No Name". Joe's rhythm style
watched the song perfectly. After All, the newest
tune from Nate, was somewhat moody, but long and
complex. The organ work in the middle was played at
skewed angles, creating a brooding vibe. As skilled
and prolific a writer as Aaron is, I have really
enjoyed Nate's last three compositions.
Without a doubt, though, the highlight of the show was
the outrageous version of "Ammonium Maze". The
drumming was tight and colorful throughout, matching
well with Aaron's vocals which ranged from heartfelt
to withdrawn. The middle jam exploded, exploded again
and then wound down into a crazy keyboard interlude
during which Joe put down his guitar and went behind
the monitors. The slick organ splashes danced through
the air, inciting the natives and dropping their jaws. Aaron brought the song back to itself by delicately
singing as the band fell into line behind.
For the encore the quartet played a slow, sparse
"Exodus" in honor of the anniversary of Bob Marley's
passing twenty years earlier. It was pensive, but
thoroughly enjoyable. Percy is popping up more and
more often these days, leaving their unofficial hiatus
behind. That and the upcoming release of Aaron's solo
album mean that you, the music fan, have many more
opportunities to get a dose of some of the finest