Wolf ... Allman?
So I had a big weekend. Want to hear about it? Then keep on reading.
I started the weekend by going yet again to Union Transfer, this time on Friday night to see Wolf Alice. If you don't know this band, shame on you, but they are a four-piece outfit from London. Don't let their lousy name deter you from giving them a listen. The lead singer is Ellie Roswell, and she also plays rhythm guitar. The lead guitarist is Joff Oddie and I'll get back to him in just a bit. WA would be best described as an indie rock band, whatever the hell that means now other than the fact that they don't get any real radio airplay in the U.S.
I would describe this band as one that covers a lot of ground, from a melodic, dreamy vocal-based style to grungy guitar-based rock. Usually in the same song. Ellie has a beautiful and wide-ranging voice, and uses two microphones, one for the dreamy chanting/vocalizing and the other for lyrics. Whatever, it works.
Joff can play the guitar and seems clearly fascinated with technical trickery to bring out more noise. He's good. But he also has a distracting style on stage when it is his turn to solo. My wife described it as "he looks like he is trying to avoid being stung by a bee." Funny, but true - he is herky-jerky and flailing around on stage in a memorable way, but not the memorable you dream about when playing guitar hero. The other members of the band gave him a wide berth when he was soloing. The rest of the band was the typical rhythm section, staying out of the way and driving the songs.
WA only has one album out (My Love is Cool) - it's good, you should listen - so they played a bit over an hour. That was fine as it was Friday night and I didn't want to be out too late anyway after a long week of work. We went with friends who didn't really know the band, and they enjoyed the show, too, proving that I'm not a complete idiot (I did use the word "complete" in that last sentence).
A two-piece band called Slaves (UK) opened for WA. One shirtless guy played the drums (no kick drum) and the other guy played either bass or six-string guitar. They had one song out of their set that was ok, the rest was loud and kind of sucked. Hey fellas, screaming at the top of your lungs over and over is not pleasing to the ears, ok? And put on a shirt.
Here's a link to Wolf Alice's official site.
And a couple of crappy iPhone 5 photos taken by yours truly.
On to Gregg Allman.
So that's how Friday went down. On Saturday night, it was off to the hub of rock 'n roll, Bethlehem, PA, to see Gregg Allman perform at the Sands Casino. OK, ok, I know that bands on the casino circuit are a bunch of has-been, money-grubbing, over-the-hill, sorry sacks of whatever. But not Gregg. Well, he may be, but the guy has an awesome backup band with a full horn section, and he travels with his huge Hammond organ thus giving it his best shot.
This is the second time I've seen Gregg solo in about a year and a half. I was a little concerned about his general state last night. He seemed a bit more feeble than previously, and he was having trouble remembering vocals (he needed a music stand with the lyrics for a song, hmmm) and, oops, the names of the members of his band (needed a cheat sheet for that, too). But other than that, he was in fine form. I've always loved his voice, believing him to be one of the best blues vocalists out there. It has that rich but gravely texture that is much imitated but seldom matched. His voice is still true and I credit that to the fact that he was never a screamer (Axl Rose, beware).
The band was rocking and they can simply jam. These are really great musicians that Gregg has brought together, that's a for sure. And when you can play songs like "Melissa" (one of my all-time favorites, written by Gregg when he was in his teens), "One Way Out," "Statesboro Blues," "I'm No Angel," and ending with Dickie Betts "Southbound," well, you know it's a great show.
Jaimoe of the Allman Brothers has a band that plays a mix of blues and jazz, and they opened for Gregg. They were good. I'm a sucker for the blues live, and they put on a nice little show.
As for the venue, it was a really pleasant surprise. It helps to be in the 6th row (asshole alert, I know), but the acoustics were great, and the sightlines are terrific. The stage is about 5 feet high, so there is good visibility for everyone. The "events center" should have had a sloped floor for those in the back, but hey, I was up front so who cares? The crowd was a lot older than the Wolf Alice crowd, and sang along at inappropriate times. I'm sorry, I came to hear Gregg Allman sing, not some hillbilly from the Poconos in white tennis shoes with a mostly bald head but with just enough hair to sport a greasy gray pony tail, too. And security was anal, and I mean ANAL, about people taking videos with their phones - guys, I'm sorry, but EVERYONE has a phone now, and it's just reality that they are going to use the video feature A LOT. But back to the venue - I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it as it seats a few thousand and there truly can't be a bad seat in the house.
You can find a ton of info about Gregg on the net, so no links. But here are a couple of photos.
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My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.