Thursday, April 26, 2012

Dr. John Live Review @ BAM 4-7-12

 Dr. John
@ Brooklyn Academy of Music

Dr.John has been artist in residency for the last month or so at the Brooklyn Academy of Music or BAM for short.  This set of shows are linked with the release of his newest album Locked Down and all of those songs would be on display here tonight.  Playing in front of a large 11 piece ensemble the New Orleans minstrel rolled out some excellent new material as he dug into grooves and let the night roll.  Exclaiming we are all about to "Pray on that right now!" off of "Revolution" which is a spacey call to arms that contains a funky baritone saxophone that bops along with grace and spirit.  Rhythm was everywhere on this night, and when the horns took a break extra drums and percussion instruments were brought fourth for them to bang around on.
The other big name on the stage was Black Keys guitarist Dan Auerbach as he has produced the new Dr John effort and has added some young spice into the 71 year old's playing.  On this night though Auerbach was simply a guitarist and mostly a rhythm one at that, rarely entering the spotlight or pulling off show stopping riff runs.  Instead he conducted things amongst the crowded stage and danced in his nude colored alligator boots while playing rhythm sticks.

The good doctor got in the dance mood during "Ice Age" shimmying and shaking his knees behind his piano. Everything on this night was cool, restrained and funky as the legend found some new songs to add to his growing repertoire.  "God's Been Good" had some Allman Brothers like riffs from Auerbach as the doctor worked some organ voodoo.  A show highlight though was when one of the older tunes "I Walk on Gilded Splinters" seeped out of the swampy sounds, an eerie delight that was a chance for all of the musicians to set the mood.        
The band left the stage for Dr. John to shine solo on his classic "Such A Night" that he immortalized on The Last Waltz.  An American musical legend he ended the night with his new song "Big Shot" in the manner of another musical legend Cab Calloway with a touch of scat singing and some call and response action.  It is a joy that Dr John still makes such engaging music this late in his career, and even skipping some classics ("Right Place, Wrong Time") didn't do a thing to the energy level or song writing talent presented on this night. 

We love Malcolm John "Mac" Rebennack, Jr and have been amazed at his style and singing for a while now. We even gave him some love over at the NYPL blogs last year before Jazzfest.  We are happy to be able to catch him again in just under a weeks time at the fairgrounds, and can, not, wait for that!  Needless to say this was a fun show, but it must be said if you were going there to watch Dan Auerbach (like a few of my friends) you were going to leave disappointed as he was not going to jump into the spotlight at all, not even playing guitar on all the songs. 

That said for a show that was 90% brand new songs the crowd seemed engaged if not wild and the players were clearly into the moment and the show.  Here is a song from the new album Locked Down (we will have a review of that up soon):


and how about some amazing Jazzfest 1973 footage to get you going as well:

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