What the heck was BRP doing on North Broad on a Tuesday night? If you're not from Philly, you should know that the further north you go in this fair city, the more you are likely to find yourself in a neighborhood that you should not be in. But the city is changing, and one of the big changes is the latest music venue in town, The Met.
The Met is a former opera house that got a total revamp and reopened recently as a music theater/venue. They did a great job! The facility is beautiful, and the acoustics are to die for. And even the neighborhood seems ok. Check out these venue shots including the fabulous chandelier:
I'll show you more pictures of the stage once I start talking about the real reason I ventured up North Broad. However, it's still life, and everything isn't perfect. In fact, this picture tells a very bad story:
$50 to park? Are you kidding me? Not even the Phillies, Flyers, 76ers or Eagles charge that much, and they are notorious rip-off artists. I was very happy that I took an Uber up there from Center City. (And just so you know, the theater holds a few thousand, and the Ubers are plentiful after the show, so you can park your car somewhere more reasonable and just dash in and out. That's called sticking it to The Man! And in this case, The Man is probably Live Nation, who runs the joint. I don't care much for Live Nation and their $12.50 per ticket service fees. No sir.)
Someone paid something like $45 million to renovate the Met, and it's very nice. When you pay $45 million, you need to earn it back, right? Well, the bands that are playing the Met are helping out in the cause. These are the same bands that play venues like the Tower and charge a pretty hefty ticket price to get in. You know my sweet spot is between $15-30, and you can see an awfully large number of terrific performers for that. But not at the Met. Be prepared to unhitch the wallet from that chain, and pull out twenty after twenty, my friends.
So when you've already ponied up the big bucks to see a band, and then they try to bend you over for another $50 to park? Well, I think this little sticker I recently saw on a car sums up my feelings about the whole thing:
Hahaha, who puts that on their car (other than me)? I do know a few of my friends who walk that walk, but they don't freakin' advertise it! They just pop off and let their emotions roil them up until they, well, are choking someone. This is the kind of sticker that gets you into the back of a police car even when you did nothing.
Back to the show. There was a band playing the Met on Tuesday, and it is one fine outfit. The Tedeschi Trucks Band is probably the top blues-rock band out there right now. They tour constantly, have recorded a number of albums, and they are carrying the blues-rock torch for the next generation. I hate to say that they took the torch from the Allman Brothers Band, but there are enough links that the bonds are pretty strong. Regardless, they are worthy.
Formed out of the marriage of lead guitarist Derek Trucks and lead singer Susan Tedeschi, TTB is the outgrowth of prior bands that Susan and Derek each led. They met when Susan's band was opening for the Allman Brothers, and Derek was playing slide guitar in ABB. Susan robbed the cradle (she's about 8 years older than Derek), but their marriage did not immediately result in them combining their professional lives. Come 2010, however, the two blues stalwarts finally merged, and have been on a tear since then. In the picture below, Susan is the one in the green dress:
The band features two drummers, three horns, three backup singers, a fantastic keyboard player, bass and the two guitars of Derek and Susan. It's big, packs a lot of power with that percussion-heavy rhythm section, and the players are all top-notch. You want a wall of sound? Here you go. And with a venue as acoustically stunning as the Met, you can hear it all. I was really blown away by the fact that not only could I understand the lyrics, but that I could pick out individual instruments as the band jammed. That's not typical in a live show.
Also not typical is a freaking giant in the audience. I mean this dude was HUGE. Don't believe me? Check out this picture below and look at the size of that guy in the foreground. Yowza! Thankfully, he either moved or split early so that he doesn't appear in all my pictures.
Susan has a great blues voice - powerful, but inflective and ranging through the notes with skill. She's also a damn fine guitarist in her own right, and she demonstrated that on a few tunes with some terrific solos.
Derek is a slide guitar master. He was a child prodigy, playing clubs at age 9, and ended up playing in his uncle's band (ABB). TTB makes sure to highlight his prodigious capabilities on many songs, and while they jam, they don't go crazy. No Mountain Jam or Phish-like 20 minute songs. One cool thing about Derek is that he pretty much plays the same guitar the entire night - I'm not sure how a band like Wilco, who travels with a huge case of guitars, could handle a dude like Derek.
There isn't a lot of flash or dazzle at a TTB show. They come out with 12 people on stage, each one has their space, and they jam like crazy. Susan and Derek are the center of attention, but others get their solo parts and play prominent roles in the show. I've now seen them 4 or 5 times, and they are very consistent in terms of quality of musicianship (very high), length of their show (2.5 hours with an intermission between sets), lack of an opening act (nice!), and variety of songs that they play. No TTB show is exactly alike, and they do a lot of covers, particularly in the second set and during encores. Here's a link to the setlist from Tuesday's show:
I love the song Made Up Mind, and the band played a blistering version near the end of the show - it rocked and the crowd loved it.
The audience is primarily baby boomers, but there are plenty of younger people enjoying the show, too. Expect to hang with a pretty nice group of people who enjoy a cocktail or two but don't get smashed, and who are respectful of others in the crowd. They still smoke a lot of weed, too. And they aren't afraid to stand up all night and dance and groove. Unfortunately, the boomers have money, and the competition for good seats means that you are going to pony up some dough. Oh well, at least they're nice.
We enjoyed the heck out of the evening, as we have every time we've seen TTB. They're a really good live act, and have a deep repertoire of tracks from which to draw. And it's worth emphasizing again the sheer quality of the musicians that are in this band - it is really high.
Next up for BRP? The Beths out of New Zealand. They're playing the acoustically dismal First Unitarian Church in Center City, but man, their first album is incredibly good and I'm really looking forward to that show. However, before I post about that, I'm going to rile up those who hate the sweet science because, yes, I was back in South Philly at the 2300 Arena for a night of boxing. It will be a short post, but it will be life-altering.
Thanks, as always, for stopping by and taking a break from your busy lives to hang out with me. You have no idea how cool it is to be around such a terrific group of people like the BRP regulars. If you see me at a show, stop by and say hi, and give me some feedback. In the meantime, go and enjoy your day and come on back shortly. Love ya!
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.