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Published: 2004/03/02
by Dan Alford

Percy Hill, Paradise Rock Club, Boston, MA- 2/27

One benefit, from the band's perspective, of Percy
Hill's sparse performance schedule is that the shows
they play are sold out; such was the case at a
Paradise packed with Boston's music hounds, college
students and a good dose of the underage girls that so
often gravitate to New England mountain (be they Green
or White) music. The other benefit, from everyone's
perspective, is that the band comes to play.
Excitement buzzed through the room before Percy Hill's
single long set began, big cheers coming every time
the lights dimmed- the sort of response that comes at
an arena, but rarely at a club sized gig. Everyone
was eager for this long awaited make-up date for a
cancelled show back in November, but when the band
took the stage, they opened with their most obtuse
song, After All. This version, however, was nice and
smooth with a lengthy intro and Adam Terrell harmonizing with
Joe Farrell's vocals at the end. Also, the band was augmented
by Zack Wilson and a Mr. Garcia on percussion, who
helped create a Latin groove fusion that served as the
evening's foundation. They filled out the spaces and
maintained the momentum, and generally helped push the
music to the next level. During the opener's final
jam, they rose to dominate, unveiling a big, dense

Riding that energy, the band followed with a bright
but driving Lap of Luxury. Again the final jam
stretched out, this time with a long solo from Joe
complemented by heavier keys. Joe also had an
especially fine solo in 313, where he pushed out the
lead, guitar held high, taking it up to the bridge and
carrying it over with strength and focused vision.
While his guitar work dominated the beginning of the
set, Adam became increasingly expressive and the leads
balanced out. Mid-set, the pair gracefully traded
leads in an excellent Make Believe; Adam was the
perfect choice for the return to two guitars.

The first of many new tunes, Spirit of Air (variously
known as Ray and Ray of Light) was the first song to
truly move into the region of open-ended jamming.
Aaron's composition, it is a masterful piece, just the
sort of work that earns Percy Hill their reputation as

"Hold on to the spirit of the changing seasons."

The verses over and composition at the mid song break,
Adam took a step forward and began a hot rhythm lick,
Joe joining soon after. The percussionists worked out
with congas and shakers, and eventually Aaron Katz began
thumping on the kick, unleashing the pent up musical
torrent. A long B-3 deluge began aggressively, and
eased slowly, eventually lingering like a haze over a
deep groove. Whereas Nate Wilson took the music down, Joe
grabbed the lead and brought it back up, rocking it
right to the final return of that infectious tag.

One of the most interesting of the evening's offerings
was the central Shining On Creation. Adam slipped a
number of slick fills into the composition, but the
end breakdown was where it was really happenin'.
Lofty pillars of sound rose amidst fast falling twists
of Moog. The jam sunk lower and lower, until Nate
jumped to the piano, banging out the intro to The
Police's Spirits in the Material World. The actual
transition became dislodged, John, or maybe Aaron
misplacing the one, but the song settled in- a nice
pairing. Just as the band finished the cover, they
poised ready to leap at another jam, and effortlessly
popped back into Shining On Creation- excellent!

But not more excellent than the following song choice. For two years now, at every Percy Hill show the crowd
has clamored for two songs: Setting the Boat Adrift
and Sunrise. Back in November at the one night only
show at The Knitting Factory in NYC they discussed
them on stage but said they needed to relearn them.
Not only did they relearn Sunrise; they reworked it.
A grinding funk initiated by Nate and his Honner
chugged and churned like a heady Get Back on the Train
jam, incessantly driving forward, when Joe stepped up
with the first verse- a pause; recollection; welcoming

"I can see the springtime coming, closer now than it
was before."

Amidst the funk, the chorus passages rose up, still in
their original form, making for an interesting,
although perhaps not as fluid overall creation.
Regardless, it was a major treat, particularly in a
show that so emphasized newer material such as the
following Door Number 5. A Wilson composition, it is
still maturing, like the Saint Lucelia played earlier
in the set, although this one had a meaty, double time
percussion jam that hinted at things to come. Also on
the rhythm heavy end, next Aaron began playing his tom
with his hands, which could only mean Graceland. The
crowd was rabid for the Paul Simon cover, hollowing
and cheering, making the space in the venue smaller
through reaching hands and leaping bodies.
Unquestionably the finest, best received version to

Late in the set, the instrumental Tumz was the biggest
jam of the night. Beginning with only Moog effects
and Aaron playing his high hat, the song took shape
with addition of rhythmic guitars and finally big,
loping bass lines. The music seemed effortless and
perfect, Percy Hill at their best. As they worked
through the compositional changes and bridges, Joe
looked up with a huge grin- they had it! The center
of the song was an enormous percussion jam with sparse
Wurlitzer and guitars filling out the edges. The room
was quaking to the rhythm when Adam looked to Aaron,
and they switched the groove. Nate jumped in on his
clavinet for some added funk, but was shortly
overwhelmed that unshakable shaking beat that rolled
endlessly on and on.

For a special treat, the encore began with only the
four principal members of the band for Soggy Weather
Skunk. This may be the first time since 2001 that
they have performed without Adam Terrell (there have
been a couple of shows without Zach). The song's open
ending always leaves room for new and interesting
experimentation. This time the music went dark and
dramatic quickly, with more clavinet and wavering
spaced out notes from Joe. John slid forward slowly,
dropping successively more intimidating bass bombs so
that the stage lights were eventually cut to just a
single spot on him. The rest of the band then joined
in for a fine, final Beneath the Cover to cap of a
truly excellent show. The fans came to dance, the
band came to play and everyone left satisfied. Percy
Hill's long awaited upcoming studio release promises
to be something truly special.

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