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Les Claypool’s Frog Brigade, The Norva- Norfolk, VA 7/22

At the Norva in Norfolk on Sunday night (7/22), Bruce Hampton & Co.'s set was a funk-filled crowd pleaser, but the grooves really started with the pounding of Colonel Claypool's boomstick. When guitarist Eenor started slashing out Fripp's frenzied chords for the band's traditional opener, King Crimson's "Thela Hun Ginjeet," Les kicked in with his distinctive bass tone that takes the chords and makes them groove. This was a particularly special Ginjeet, with Les thumping out "Immigrant Song" and "Crazy Train," then dropping back back into the groove and doing his crouched circular run around the stage.

Skerik, saxophonist extraordinaire, was decked out in a wizardlike blue robe, and he waited with unearthly patience for his breaks and solos, ducking his head back and forth to Les' grinding syncopation. When he did let loose though, it was like a pack of wolves had entered the room. The man sounds like three horn players in one. He can play the subtle, classic lines – the harmonies -with as much smoothness as anyone. But it's when he lets go and convinces his horn to shriek it's downright awe-inspiring. This man is the future of the saxophone. If you haven't seen or heard him in one of his many guises, (Critters Buggin', Tuatara, Ponga, Galactic, Garage A Trois, and of course the Frog Brigade) then make the effort. The show raged on with tunes like the Flying Frog originals like "Shattering Song" and "Hendershot" – which evoke memories of the more melodious Primus tunes while still very exploratory. But the highlight of the show was a ripping "Major Tom" which featured Les, not known for the most mellifluous of voices, nailing the Bowie vocals with nearly more nuance then the original ( "Planet earth is blueand there's nothing I can doooo.") Halfway through the show, Claypool and company left briefly and reemerged with glasses with eyelights, complimenting the helmets they wore (Claypool wore his helmet for most of the show). This of course added to the rollicking funk party. At the end of the show, Claypool brought out his one string bass-stick which he also bowed. During the more frenzied parts, he rapidly whacked the string with the bow while manipulating a piece behind the top of the neck which tightened and loosened the string. The band encored with a funked out version of Claypool's solo effort, "Holy Mackerel.," that popped and crackled on and on.

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