Saturday, January 16, 2010

Trial By Fire at Yoshi's, Thursday, January 14, 2010

Trial By Fire is the name of the ensemble consisting of Robben Ford and Michael Landau on guitar and vocals, Jimmy Haslip on bass, and Gary Novak on drums. I saw the early show at Yoshi's on the first of their four-night stint.
The guys came out of the gate seemingly a bit out of synch; Landau's first solo seemed like he was fighting to squeeze notes out his guitar and wasn't quite feeling the music (the first tune was Robben's "Just Like It Is" from Tiger Walk), while Robben seemed way under-represented in the mix. It picked up from there, however, and they locked in well. Both Robben and Mike Landau sang, but neither was in very good voice. And the new songs were OK but none of them really stood out to me.
Aside from those minor quibbles, there was lots of really great playing by both Robben and Landau; both were in excellent form (giving Mike some slack on the opening tune). In addition to the several new numbers from the upcoming CD, they played another song from Tiger Walk, "Oasis," and also did "Spoonful" and the Jimmy Reed medley that appeared on Soul On Ten last summer.
Robben played the sunburst 335 and the Tele about equally. There was a Les Paul there too but he never touched it. Landau played the same Stratocaster for the entire show.
Haslip and Novak were both great and contributed solos in "Oasis" and "Spoonful."
Looking forward to the CD (to be released in March, according to Robben.)

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