Anders Osborne, Tipitina’s, New Orleans, LA- 12/6
Photo by Dino Perrucci
Anders Osborne is one of New Orleans’s most loved musicians, and the first night of his 2nd Annual Holiday Spectacular at Tipitina’s felt like Osborne’s intimate gift in return. This year’s throwdown was dubbed “Rock My Nola Soul For Christmas” and he enlisted some serious six string slingers and other guests to make sure the show lived up to its name. Osborne’s 30 years in New Orleans have given him plenty of writing material, earned him the honorary title of one of its native sons, and given him the ability to pepper his songs with New Orleans references, which The Crescent City crowd seemed to greatly appreciate. Osborne’s history in this city, and his ability to expose the raw truths of those experiences, allows audiences to connect deeply to his detailed truths. Osborne walked on the stage with pride and humility, ready to show his city that he is on the top of his game with the echoes of his sins reverberating against his broken chains.
As Osborne summoned his inner Norse god of thunder, his fingers worked their way into the first song of the night, a high caliber version of “Five Bullets,” which was released on Osborne’s newest album Peace two months ago, yet the song has already become a hard driving anthem for Osborne fans. Everyone knew exactly when to fist pump and shout out “....sunroof open and the “Who Dat” decal.” with Saintly New Orleanian pride, and Osborne’s smile showed just how much he appreciated the crowds gesture.
Osborne shuffled into his Living Room with “Ya-Ya”, then took a long hard look at his reflections in “Windows” before howling at Little Feat’s “Spanish Moon” with Paul Barrere and Luther Dickinson by his side. You are who you surround yourself with, and everyone on that stage was in damn good company. Little Feat’s Barrere was looking over his right shoulder back at Osborne with a look that said, “We are killing this one,” as Dickinson looked at Osborne and just chuckled. They knew they knew just what a full and powerful “Spanish Moon” was arising, and they enjoyed it as much as those off the stage.
Dickenson made the declaration of “Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky (From Now On), and the North Mississippi All-Stars’ slide shined its way up and down his Gibson SG with a sassy strut full of funk. After “Had My Reasons” and “Trouble,” Dickinson picked up a mandolin, while Osborne and Barrere continued on acoustics for a slow and sultry “Roll Um Easy,” before the first set ended with “Jesus On The Main Line.”
Osborne always plays from the heart, but the Tipitina’s stage pulls things out from deep in his soul, and his gut. Osborne has played his songs “all the way from Woodstock, down to New Orleans,” and the Big Easy is where he finds his Peace. On a live recording from Tipitina’s in 2006, Osborne was introduced as “The Swede who is always in need” but at his hometown holiday show he looked like a New Orleanian in need of nothing, except the joy he was getting from the moment. Fellow New Orleans resident Billy Iuso brought his guitar to the stage to help set “Burning on the Inside” and “Do or Die” ablaze, then Osborne took a pause to “Smile” before digging deep into “Boxes, Bills & Pain.” When Osborne lets the emotion of a song like “Boxes, Bills & Pain” fully flow, it becomes obvious just how much of himself he shares. Standing like a fighter with his left foot forward and his right foot back, Osborne unleashed the fury, his blonde hair swinging from his head as he fought the demons in the song.
Shaking the last round off with “Shake,” Dickinson brought his southern swagger back to the forefront before Iusu came back out for a steaming hot plate of “Dixie Chicken.” Johnny Sansone then stepped out and tore into his original “The Lord Is Waiting and The Devil Is Too” as if both figures were actually waiting for him by the side of the stage, and that was the last time he was going to get to blow on his harp. Osborne then gave a dangerously strong shot of “Black Tar” that was mood altering for the audience and seemingly purifying for Osborne.
The night ended at a Crossroads with “Willie Brown Blues” and “On The Road To Charlie Parker”. Osborne was once well on the path of destruction, which was leading him directly to the exit Charlie Parker took, but it seems as if now he is on “The Golden Road To Unlimited Devotion,” as proven by his recent knighting into the inner circle by Phil Lesh. Osborne’s Holiday Spectacular was just that, and it rocked the hell out of NOLA’s soul.