Monday, January 23, 2012

Robben Ford at Yoshi's Oakland, Sunday, January 22, 2012

It was a wet, rainy weekend in the Bay Area, and spirits got even more dampened when the San Francisco 49ers lost the NFC championship. Maybe the big game explains why the 8 o'clock show at Yoshi's on Sunday was so criminally under-attended. The room wasn't even half full. But those in attendance enjoyed a smouldering set from Robben Ford and his band.

Ford was in fine form, if perhaps a tiny bit taciturn, as if he was mildly tired, or perhaps just a bit disappointed at the turnout. The repertoire for the evening included some of my favorites, like his version of Ray Charles' "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying" (which appears in an acoustic version on his 1998 release The Authorized Bootleg),  "Cannonball Shuffle" (his instrumental tribute to Freddie King from 2003's Keep On Running), and "Good Thing" and "Strong Will to Live" from 1995's Handful of Blues. The band was exceptional - Greg Mathieson on Hammond B-3 organ and Fender Rhodes piano, Andy Hess on bass, and Toss Panos on drums. Hess and Panos locked in tight as a grooving and dynamic unit. Panos in particular is an excellent foil for Robben. 

He used a volume pedal beautifully in one solo, at the end of which Greg Mathieson stood up for a moment, gestured, and yelled, "ROBBEN FORD!!!" It was a nice moment.

A great show... I wish they had played a bit longer (they were done by about 9:30) but that's a minor quibble...

Aside for the guitar crowd: Ford was plugged into his famous Dumble amp into 2 x 12 cabinet. He stuck mostly with his old Telecaster; several other guitars were standing there waiting, but only one was used, a Gibson Firebird, for one song. His pedalboard contained a wah, a volume pedal, a Fulltone OCD distortion pedal, two TC Electronics Hall of Fame reverb pedals, a Line 6 DL4 delay pedal, and a tuner. Last time I saw him do his own thing (almost three years ago, one of the gigs recorded for Soul On Ten), he used the wah a lot; last night he didn't touch it.

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