Star Plaza. Merrillville, IN. Last night (July 20, 2010).
The blistering final distorted notes from a flaming-arrow-center-shot Byrdland's summoning of the Great White Buffalo Spirit are still wringing in my ears. From the moment Ted, Mick and Greg took the stage the audience was mashed to a pulp. Each song was a little more intense, the drums and bass tight and heavy, and Ted's barbed wire guitar made familiar songs edgier building to a climax that destroyed the building.
Jams were extended, notes were bent, sustained and burned and the crowd was pure energy. Watching Ted and his band on this tour is like watching a freight train rolling at top speed with a loose wheel. At any moment, you fear this thing is gonna fly off the track and explode - all the while the conductor is laughing like a maniac and yelling, "Let's go faster!" Stormtroopin' set the pace in a songlist that included fired-up versions of standards, a loving tribute to Obama and Mayor Daley, a new family sing-a-long (Trample The Weak, Hurdle The Dead) and assorted spontaneous musical journeys of the Motown and American Blues variety - kind of like James Brown with a spear, in a loincloth, greasin' his afro with warthog guts.
Female audience members got pregnant from hearing last night's Cat Scratch Fever. When Stranglehold was played, it was interrupted by a call from The Prez who asked if Ted could "teach him how to be this black." The spiritual campfire that is Fred Bear was never more magical - my father's presence was in that theater, along with all the great campfire mentors that have blessed our lives. By the time GWB was played, the audience was on the ropes, beggin' for the knockout mercy punch and lovin' every minute of it.
Catch this tour! Ted no longer plays guitar, he melts them. YOU CAN SEE THE NOTES! They fly like bullets from the amps. Ted is also a Soul Train choreographer. The songs are not sung, they are howled, growled and snarled. Mick Brown is a drum god, driving the bad with a tornado force meets earthquake attitude. Greg Smith's dangerous, rumbling bass hits you in the guts and his vocals are top-notch. Tight as hell. Wow. What kind of music is this, anyway?
--Review from WKAT radio personality,
Mike Tomano, co-host of the Tomano & Touhy Show
WYKT-FM, The KAT 105.5 in Chicago's Southland