Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi/ Photo by James Minchin
Hard sell is not in the vocabulary of the Tedeschi Trucks Band.
Derek Trucks didn’t say a word during the group’s splendid two-hour performance Wednesday at the Fitzgerald Theater. Susan Tedeschi, who did most of the singing, said little between songs, not even plugging the group’s second studio album, “Made Up Mind,” due on Aug. 20.
But the 11-person band offered five tunes from the forthcoming disc, suggesting that the ever versatile blues-rock-soul ensemble is getting a little heavier.
Has anyone played as heavy and clean as Trucks did on the closing “The Storm”? (It’s on the upcoming CD.) He found a sassy, swampy strut on “Made Up Mind,” the title track of the new disc that earned a standing ovation from first-time listeners. On the roadhouse blues “You Get What You Deserve,” he raised the proceedings with his fast and aggressive slide work.
Trucks demonstrated a vast vocabulary, from his soothing Southern slide on “It’s So Heavy” to his trippy, mysterious jazz-rock fusion excursion on the sophisticated “Nobody’s Free” to his gorgeously eloquent jazz-soul slide on “Midnight in Harlem,” the night’s prettiest song and a highlight.
Through it all, the ponytailed Trucks, 34, was unassuming and effortless, rarely looking at the fans and acknowledging them at night’s end with a little half-hearted wave with his hand at waist-level.
Tedeschi, 42, his wife, seems to be playing less lead guitar in the TTB but her voice is stronger than ever, evoking early Bonnie Raitt with its timbre, phrasing and impassioned soulfulness. Her doing John Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery,” a Raitt staple, too obviously invites comparisons but she managed to sneak in a bit of Jerry Garcia’s “Sugaree” to sweeten the vibe.
Mike Mattison, a Minneapolis native, did a memorable raspy soul-man vocal turn on “You Get What You Deserve.” New bassist Eric Krasno added seamless jam-band instincts.
TTB’s arrangements, especially the integration of the three-piece horn section (loved the Paul Simon happy horns on “Wah Wah”) and the two backup singers, were terrific. Too bad keyboardist Kofi Burbridge was offered only one opportunity in which to solo. That sometimes happens when you have an embarrassment of musical riches.
Here is Wednesday’s set list:
Misunderstood (new CD)/ Sky Is Crying (Elmore James)/ Shelter/ Don’t Let Me Slide/ I Know/ It’s So Heavy (new)/ Made Up Mind (new)/ Part of Me (new)/ Nobody’s Free/ Mahjoun/ Midnight in Harlem/ You Get What You Deserve (sung by Mike Mattison)/ Bound for Glory ENCORE Wah-Wah (George Harrsion)/ Angel from Montgomery (John Prine) > Sugaree (Jerry Garcia)/ The Storm (new)