Record label executives hoping to make a buck are often the ones behind many of the summer package tours that hit the road over the summer. Not last night’s Wheels of Soul, a triple bill that included co-headliners Tedeschi Trucks Band and Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings along with opener Doyle Bramhall II. The show rolled into Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica last night. Even though the venue was only about three-quarters full, the bands all put on stellar performances, and they even joined together for a thrilling encore that included a cover of the Etta James tune “Tell Mama” and the Sly & the Family Stone track “I Want to Take You Higher.” The show didn’t have a weak link. You can see a slideshow of photos from the event here
Bramhall started things off with an understated set of heavy Texas blues. With his frizzy hair puffed up high to the sky and an old school scarf wrapped tight around his neck, Bramhall looked like he stepped out of the ‘60s. He regularly put a psychedelic twist on his tunes as he pressed on his wah-wah pedals to give his guitar a little more fuzz. The highlight of his 40-minute set was a cover of the Hendrix tune “Angel,” which he introduced as a “favorite” that he used to cover with his old band the Arc Angels. “That seems like a couple of lives ago,” he said as he delivered a sultry rendition of the tune. While Bramhall had the personality of a sideman rather than a frontman, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings brought some real pizzazz to the proceedings.
Introduced as a “fireball” who is “badder than bad,” Jones looked sharp in a black and sliver dress and she really commanded the stage. At one point, she even took a trip to Mardi Gras and lead her 8-piece band in a rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In.” “This 59-year-old woman is gonna try to sound 18 tonight,” she said as she played a song that Gladys Knight wrote when she was 18. She led the audience through a variety of dance moves (including the “funky chicken”) during her engaging 90-minute set that was punctuated by some terrific horn work courtesy of the Dap-Kings.
Tedeschi Trucks Band isn’t going to win any awards for choreography. With his long hair tied back into a ponytail, guitarist Derek Trucks stood stationary to the right of singer-guitarist Susan Tedeschi. But the man could really play. On the Allman Brothers Band-like “Keep on Growing,” he effortlessly unleashed one remarkable bluesy solo after another. “Let’s Go Get Stoned” turned into a rowdy sing-a-long and Tedeschi showed off her ability to solo on the slow burner “Sky is Crying.” During the 90-minute set, Trucks ripped into a few Led Zeppelin songs too.
It’s not often that all three acts on a bill hold their own, but last night’s concert was a real treat. All three groups had their own virtues and the collaboration for the finale put a real punctuation mark on the show.