"We just made that shit up," said surf rock legend Dick Dale after a mid-tempo blues instrumental about a half an hour into Sunday night set at the Gothic. "That's the story of my life. Everything I do onstage is made up. We never follow a pattern or a list. That's why you see me turning around, giving signals to Jimmy and Sammy, because they don't know what I'm going to do next. I don't know what I'm going to next."
With Dale's son Jimmy on drums and bassist Sammy Bolle, who spent a decade with Agent Orange before joining Dale's band, the trio performed without a set-list, and their on-the-fly assertiveness kept the energy surging throughout the entire show. While his fiery guitar playing was at the forefront, Dale gave the other guys a few opportunities to stretch out as well. Whatever tune Dale jumped into, his son and Bolle were right there with him.
At 74, Dale showed no signs of slowing down. Looking fit and healthy, the guitarist played the hell out of his gold sparkle Stratocaster, his left hand playing barrages of his trademark breakneck tremolo picking. Hell, the guy been known to attack the strings so fast that he'll wear away nearly half of a pick and pick dust will be all over the front his shirt by the end of the show.
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Early in the set, Dale took a request from a guy with a long grey beard in front of the stage to play "Peppermint Man" before segueing into bits from "Johnny Comes Marching Home" and "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky." After running through Link Wray's "Rumble" and Dale's own "Shake N Stomp," Dale started in on "The House of Rising Sun," and by the end of the song, he had the entire crowd singing along.
About half way through the show, Dale dug into his country roots with Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues" and then segued into "Ring of Fire." Fusing that reverb-drenched surf rock tone with some country twang worked quite well, and Dale's deep vocal delivery wasn't too far off from the Man in Black.
Rounding out the hour-and-fifteen minute set with "Belo Horizonte," "Hava Nagila," and "Let's Go Trippin'," Dale closed the night with rousing take on his hit "Misirlou." Having dealt with some health issues over the years, it was moving when Dale looked out onto the crowd and said, "You have been my medicine."
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Personal Bias: After seeing Dale for the first time at the Bluebird Theater over fifteen years ago, it's great to see the guy is still in top form.
Random Detail: Dale was sporting a pair of Adidas black shell toes.
By the Way: Fingers of the Sun opened with a decent set of sunny pop.