Turning Point Review
Thanks Jim Sheridan
Hey kids, Kevin Duda was my co-pilot for the early and late shows at The Turning Point on Saturday night. We met Karen L., Lisa the Taylorite, and Greg Lewis, which was fun. Hi!
The gigs themselves were wonderful. For the first set we sat toward the back, with one couple who were Stones fans (the guy saw the Stones in 1972 and asked me "Hey, what has Mick Taylor done since then?") and a pair of Peter Karp fans. The place was pretty evenly divided. Mick came out and played the 1959 re-issue sunburst Les Paul until he broke a string; he then played the soundman's Strat (purple metallic glitter), and also his blonde Telecaster for, I think, "No Expectations." He was using this guy's small Fender amp. He had a glass slide.
In the second set, we sat directly in front of Mick with our feet on the monitors. We received a lesson in playing! He did not break a string and so he played the Paul throughout, except for using Peter's dobro on one song and the Tele again for "No Expectations." His pedalboard had a wah-wah, a Boss Super Overdrive, and an Ibanez chorus pedal of some kind that gave a Leslie-like sound. He had a very odd slide; it looked a ceramic lipstick tube or a personal massager; it was purple and speckled and had no hole on top. The soundman lavished praise on the Les Paul, showing us its lovely burnished finish. He works at The Stanhope House, where this band will play this Friday. He said that there was the chance that this tour could get extended depending on how things went.
I thought things went rather well. The description of Peter's music as similar to early Bruce or John Hiatt is pretty accurate; I would throw in a little Van Morrison influence. I even heard similarities between his band and Carla Olson's; solid rock with some blues flavors and the ability to go in different directions. The song "The Turning Point" made me think of Carla's "See the Light," especially when Mick blasted off into his solo. Peter has a great sense of rhythm, like Van the Man in the way he phrases his lyrics and switches things up, and also in the way he directed the band. Lots of dynamics; he very clearly and confidently would have the band drop down or speed up or build to a crescendo. His guitar playing was authoritative too. He layed down great rock rhythm and took some good leads as well. I thought this really helped everyone out; it can be argued that Mick's solo band lacks this kind of decisiveness and can meander some. These guys did not meander. Mick had someone playing aggressive rhythm and swapping leads, even coaxing Mick into some call-and-response playing.
I know what Curtis means regarding the drums on "Alabama." The drummer was keeping a steady booming bass drum kick with no alternation. It did not have the country funkiness that Colin Allen (right?) offered on the studio version. It sounded more like a marching band's bass drum.
Peter's antics were fine with me. I really don't care one way or the other if someone dresses wildly or leaps around or just stares at their shoes. Hendrix didn't have to set his guitar on fire or hump his Strat; Duane Allman could have moved more; as long as they play the way they play, I'm happy. When showmanship harms one's performance (Jagger's out of breath singing in 1981, Jimmy Page's gesticulations making for missed notes) it is obviously a problem for me. I have noted from my own musical performances and concert-going that "effective" showmanship does bring the energy level in the room up quite a bit. It draws some folks into the music who would not get it otherwise. Unfortunate but true.
It was Mick Taylor who brought me to the show, though, and he played very well overall. The Paul sounds lovely, and the variety of songs and styles offered by Peter's music led Mick into some playing that he might not have done otherwise. There was one song in the first set where Mick did some remarkable exploring on the Strat. I will have to re-listen to check which song it was, but he did quite a bit of "horizontal" moving on the fretboard rather than vertical. In both sets, he really soared on "The Turning Point." He also had a lot of space for adding different rhythmic flavors, and he offered a variety of touches. Lots of jazzy comping and sliding 7th and 9th chords; different kinds of double-stops; angular blues comping and chomping; quite a display. In the second set, they did play a slow blues, a Freddie King song called "Love with a Feeling" (?) and Mick tore into it with passion and control with some well-composed soloing. Again, some re-listening will provide a more specific report. I'm glad Mick is with Peter, and I'm glad I saw them. It was a needed break from the usual songs and patterns that Mick's band has had for years; Mick clearly had a blast, joking and smiling and moving more than I'd seen. He was given great support, musically and technically, and responded well to his role in the band. It was not the jazz-rock fusion set that I secretly yearn for, but I was not expecting it to be! What will this add to Mick's legacy? I think Mick's legacy is set as it is. Few musicians over the age of 30 are going to rise much further than they already have in the general public's eye, sadly. If I get the chance (and my wife lets me!!!!!) I'll be seeing these guys again. What do you say, Kevin? Jim S.