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Reviews > Shows

Published: 2016/01/30
by Heather Farr

Tedeschi Trucks Band, The Chicago Theater, Chicago, IL- 1/23

A few nights later in NYC, photo by Bill Kelly

On a cold Saturday in downtown Chicago, thousands of fans threw winter coats over their festival wear and floated down to the Chicago Theater to catch the Tedeschi Trucks Band. Although the show – like the previous night’s performance – was sold out and somehow made the mammoth theater feel small, the air was full of excitement and positive energy that only increased when the full 12-piece band took the stage.

With the looming release of the band’s third studio album, Let Me Get By (now available), the crowd anticipated a show of new tunes, and TTB wasted no time in delivering. The opening song, “Don’t Know What it Means,” was a funky, upbeat new piece that masterfully highlighted each section of the band – from Susan Tedeschi’s powerful pipes to her husband Derek Trucks’ rousing guitar to the grandiose horns section. What followed was the first of several covers: “Keep on Growing” by Derek and the Dominos, a nod to Trucks’ time with another guitar great, Eric Clapton.

Even among the roaring of the crowd during one of the band’s most well-known songs, 2011’s “Midnight in Harlem,” Tedeschi, Trucks and team appeared effortlessly cool and naturally comfortable with each other – no small feat with such an immense band. “Thank you so much, it’s so great to see so many of you out here tonight,” Tedeschi said earnestly, before a soulful “Do I Look Worried.”

The group showed both its vitality and versatility through a variety of covers, from the Derek Trucks Band’s rocking “Don’t Miss Me” to the sad and prevailing “Bird on the Wire” by Leonard Cohen. Spanning blues, country, folk, soul, gospel and everything in between, the band channeled Elmore James, Betty Harris and even Miles Davis for a mid-second set jam and tribute.

From the new album, TTB offered up “Anyhow,” an upbeat and crisp love song that shows just how well the full ensemble can back its fearless female lead. Another new track, “Just as Strange,” showed off the band’s southern roots while also calling to mind Trucks’ early days with the Allman Brothers. The band previewed the soulful, genre-bending “I Want More,” as well as the new album’s title track, which seems to capture everything fans love about the band within one full-bodied song.

The encore brought a Bowie-worthy version of the late icon’s “It Ain’t Easy,” which took on a new life with the help of the 12-piece group. The final tune, Joe Cocker’s “Space Captain,” gave nod to the band’s tribute to Mad Dogs & Englishmen at Lockn’ and seemed to have the whole room in one giant, dancing embrace. With a new album, a seemingly renewed vivacity and enthralling chemistry, TTB proved once again why they are one of the greatest live acts to catch – and made it clear that they’re just getting started.

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