During the second night of their annual residency at The Chicago Theatre, located at 175 N. State St., Tedeschi Trucks Band filled the historic venue with their modern country-rock sound.
During the second night of their annual residency at The Chicago Theatre, located at 175 N. State St., Tedeschi Trucks Band filled the historic venue with their modern country-rock sound. The Florida-based group’s nonstop guitar riffs and warm stage presence invited the audience to an evening of incomparable talent and communal energy.
Substituting an opener with faint rock music coming from overhead speakers, the 12-person band made their way onto the stage shortly after 8 p.m where lead singer Susan Tedeschi swung the colorful strap of an electric guitar over her shoulder. The green instrument stood out against her black dress while complementing the stage design’s warm tones and the band’s vibrant sound.
The group kicked off their set with “Playing With My Emotions” from their 2022 album “I Am The Moon,” instantly unleashing their Southern roots. A bouncy bassline by Brandon Boone and jazzy horn section supported Tedeschi’s soulful vocals and guitarist Derek Trucks’ twangy riffs.
“Pin me down when I’m trying to move / Is that what you call gratitude? / Well, you’re playing with my emotions,” Tedeschi sang.
Keyboard player Gabe Dixon took the lead on “Ain’t That Something.” Accompanied by Tedeschi’s backup vocals, Dixon’s bubbly tone and subtle raspiness bounced off of the venue’s high ceilings and detailed architecture.
Tedeschi settled in front of her microphone stand during “All The Love,” letting her rich vocals shine throughout the ballad. Trucks, Tedeschi’s husband, took instrumental primacy as his complex guitar strumming rang through the theater.
Songs like “Outside Woman Blues,” “Joyful Noise” and “Where Are My Friends?” put the immense talent of the band on display and prepared the crowd for what would prove to be an exhibition of seasoned musicianship.
Seamless backup singing by harmony vocalists Mike Mattison, Mark Rivers and Alecia Chakour were foundational to the performance. Kebbi Williams on the saxophone, Elizabeth Lee on the trombone and Ephraim Owens on the trumpet gracefully handled the responsibility of maintaining a beaming horn section.
“Where are my friends? Now my lover’s gone / Did they step out of rhythm for some other song? / You should be / Here with me,” Mattison sang, leading the band through “Where Are My Friends?”
Adding to the show’s immersivity were engaging visual effects. Colorful stage lighting bounced around the venue like laser beams and a screen displayed corresponding graphics. As Dixon delivered “Gravity,” a drawing of two falling people reaching for each other occupied the backdrop.
The last song of their first set, “Yes We Will,” was written about “saving the planet,” according to Tedeschi. Utilizing the moment to speak out about climate change and waste issues, the singing guitarist encouraged the audience to work as a community for change.
“Let’s try to do things together and love each other,” Tedeschi said to the crowd before beginning the powerful song.
Following the first nine songs, all packed full of fine-tuned vocals and astonishing instrumental solos, the band took a brief break. As fans reflected on the band’s first set and quiet rock music played overhead, the room buzzed with excitement and anticipation for the remainder of the show.
The lights dimmed and the crowd, primarily made up of middle-aged fans, erupted in cheers. Smooth horns welcomed the group back to the stage and blue lighting fell over the musicians. Tedeschi crooned melancholic lyrics, introducing the start of a more subdued set.
“Well I know it ain’t refined / But I’ll hold your place in line / Until you remember that you’re mine,” Tedeschi belted in the chorus of “Until You Remember.”
A projection of an ocean wave crashing on the shore in front of a lighthouse served as the backdrop for “Signs, High Times.”
As instruments built and broke throughout “Do I Look Worried,” Tedeschi’s growling vocals remained constant. The crowd danced along as the two drummers, Tyler Greenwell and Isaac Eady, kept time from center stage.
The horn section led the next song, and Williams’ refreshing saxophone notes served as a fitting introduction to “Midnight in Harlem.” The group’s most popular song was a crowd favorite — after booming cheers, fans swayed while singing along to the easygoing tune.
“Walk that line / Torn apart / Gotta spend your whole life trying / Ride that train / And free your heart / It’s midnight up in Harlem,” Tedeschi sang as the lighting above her imitated a sunrise.
After lively renditions of “Shame” and Taj Mahal’s “Everybody’s Got To Change Sometime,” a majority of the band exited while Tedeschi remained on stage with the keyboardist, bassist and one drummer. The singer took a delicate vocal approach to a cover of John Prine’s “Angel From Montgomery.”
Despite the simplicity of the performance, fans stood in awe at the prodigious talent on display. As the crowd settled into the song’s relaxed pace, Tedeschi subtly and quickly transitioned into a cover of the Grateful Dead’s folk-rock hit “Sugaree,” inspiring another round of applause and lively dancing.
“Just one thing I ask of you, is just one thing for me / Please forget you know my name, my darling Sugaree,” Tedeschi sang.
After each of the 12 musicians reentered the stage, the set concluded with “I Want More (Soul Sacrifice),” a thundering and momentous conclusion to the three-hour show. Each instrument complemented the others, creating a harmonious ending to the lengthy but engaging night.
Despite wearing obvious expressions of exhaustion following the concert, fans roared in excitement when the band emerged again for an encore of “Space Captain” — a culmination of the band’s versatile and undeniable talent.
“Look out for each other,” Tedeschi said as her parting remark, encompassing the band’s familial energy and compassionate values.
Featured image by Ella Govrik | The Phoenix