The rain started coming down in sheets right at showtime, so the music had to be delayed for more than an hour. Then, by the time the downpour tempered into a steady pattering, the wind picked up. Sharp gusts snaked their way through Red Rocks Amphitheatre, and the temperature plummeted. On stage, microphone stands and drum cymbals kept blowing over. And at times, the light riggings and speaker arrays looked like they were about to fall, swaying menacingly above the performers on stage.
But none of that could keep the audience, or the Tedeschi Trucks Band, on Saturday night from grooving through the storm. If anything, weather only added to the drama of an impressive performance by the eleven-piece blues-rock band, which is headed by guitar maestro Derek Trucks, formerly of the Allman Brothers Band, and his equally talented, soul-singing wife, Susan Tedeschi.
During only the seventh performance on their Wheels of Soul Summer tour, the group played with an ease and punchy tightness that many bands don’t accomplish until the last shows of a long tour. This included a variety of originals — like "Idle Wind," "Midnight in Harlem," and "The Storm" (aptly chosen given the weather) – as well as cover songs, a highlight being Trucks’ blistering slide guitar work over looped riffs from Led Zeppelin’s "What is and Should Never Be." Some of the songs included help from guest guitarist Doyle Bramhall II.
If anyone deserves credit for keeping the crowd energized, though, it was opener Sharon Jones of Sharon Jones and the
“I’m singing in the rain! Just singing in the rain! What a wonderful feeling!” she crooned after finishing a cover of "I Heard it Through the Grapevine."
As the water pooling on stage worked its way back towards the band and their equipment, Jones threw off her shoes and splashed through the puddles in her bare feet, stomping along with the accented hits of her band’s horn section. Her furious energy and upbeat attitude quickly erased any discomforts those in the audience might have felt, and set the tone for the rest of the evening.
When it came time for the encore at the end of the show, her own eleven-piece band joined the Tedeschi Trucks band to form a wall of talent on stage, and blasted the amphitheatre with a cover of Sly and the Family Stone’s "I Want to Take you Higher."
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Tedeschi and Jones belted out the lyrics in lockstep with the funk lines, matching each other’s talent with their distinct and powerful voices. Then the wind picked up again, and Derek Truck’s hair was flying as he launched into his guitar solo. Ever the stoic, he had played most of the show with his eyes closed and face drawn in concentration. But towards the end of the encore, for just a second, he opened his eyes and smiled.
That’s how you know it was a good show.