(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Concert review - Tenacious D with The Sights

26 July 2012 (Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Morrison CO)

The show contrasted a serious young band full of nervous energy and a well practiced, experienced headliner. Both acts gave fair value with strong sets.

Red Rocks is a large venue. I had good seats with great sound, but a bit far back for good photos.

The Sights were out of their element. This tour is certainly exposing them to some large audiences and Red Rocks is long way from the Michigan bars back home. Where a lesser band might have been cowed, The Sights stepped up with their incredible bar band energy and played large enough to own the stage.

Eddie Baranek's manic stage presence comes through in The Sights' YouTube clips, but he was even more amped as he strutted the stage here. The whole band was hyped as they pounded through the relatively short set.

They mostly favored the new album, Left Over Right (review), but they pulled out some older cuts, too. I loved Baranek's wicked guitar jam kicking off the bluesy rocker, (Nose to the) Grindstone.

The Sights emphasized their rocker side, which was appropriate for a Tenacious D crowd. So, they toned down some of their soul sound. Still, their tight pop harmonies sweetened the mix.

They wrapped up the set with an amazing version of Fool (I Can't Stop Making Out With You). Baranek set his guitar down on the edge of the stage and let it feedback in an extended version of the album track's tease intro. Then, he took the mic with his harp and threw down against Dean Tartaglia's wailing sax. The vocals still reminded me of Eric Burdon and the Animals, but with the band off their leashes. Tartaglia doubled down on free jazz sax riffs, playing two saxes at the same time. Kyle Schanta's heavy bass lines anchored the tune.

Sweaty and spent, the band took their bows at the end. They seemed a little shell-shocked. Eddie Baranek looked dazed as he thanked us for the "Best night ever". No, Eddie. Thank you.

Tenacious D are touring behind their new album, Rize of the Fenix (review). Rather than mix up the set, interspersing older song with the new songs, Tenacious D split the set into two halves. In the first section, they played many of the new songs. Then they laid out a tongue in cheek jam, showcasing a "new direction" for The D -- Jazz. It was an amusing send up of pretentious free jazz, complete with Jack Black's scat vocals. After that, the second half of the set hit a bunch of favorite songs from their earlier albums.

Rize of the Fenix isn't Tenacious D's strongest album, but the live energy kicked ass. They started out the set with a theatrical version of the title track. The dynamics of the song were bigger and the stage set (a giant Fenix/cock) was exactly the kind of excess that Tenacious D does so well.

While Kyle Gass stayed quiet and serious in his straight man persona, Jack Black dominated the show with his over-the-top acting. Black's funniest acting roles are rooted in his ability throw himself into a silly part, selling even the goofiest character (Nacho Libre, etc). This was part of the magic of the Tenacious D show on HBO that launched the franchise. The Red Rocks set was fairly scripted, but Black was so invested with his role, that it took on a kind of sincerity. Whether he was playing prima donna between songs and ordering his roadies around or pushing his campy Neil Diamond impression on 39, Black kept us laughing as we rocked.

That balance between humor and catharsis makes Tenacious D such a great band. If Black handled the bulk of the funny, Kyle Gass and the band drove the music. Longtime backing musician John Konesky was incredibly versatile on guitar, effortlessly bouncing from classical lines to shredding leads. Bass player John Spiker played some solid lines, but his solo during the band introductions was jaw-dropping. Brooks Wackerman showed off his agility with kick drum rolls and tasteful fills. KG's guitar work was a nice contrast to Konesky's. On the new material, his playing was more subtle, but he had plenty of chances to show off during the older songs.

Tenacious D kept up a pace chock full of peak moments. With Konesky "possessed" by Satan, the band ran through the skit/song of Beelzeboss (The Final Solution). Without giving us much time to savor the big finish, Gass sauntered to the full front center of the stage and kicked off a rousing medley of the Who's Tommy. Starting with Pinball Wizard, he nailed Townshend's speedy rhythmic strum. The band transitioned from Pinball Wizard to There's a Doctor before finishing out with Go To The Mirror!

Tenacious D wrapped up the set with an extended version of Double Team that detoured out to band introductions before the inevitable climax from the Fenix spewed confetti into the audience. We didn't have to wait long for the three song encore, which wrapped up with a crowd singalong of Fuck Her Gently.

More photos on my Flickr.

  • Rize of the Fenix
  • Low Hangin' Fruit
  • SeƱorita
  • Deth Starr
  • The Roadie
  • Throw Down
  • 39
  • "Jazz"
  • Kielbasa
  • Kickapoo
  • Dude (I Totally Miss You)
  • Kyle Quit the Band
  • Friendship
  • The Metal
  • Wonderboy
  • Beelzeboss (The Final Countdown)
  • Tommy medley
    • Pinball Wizard
    • There's a Doctor
    • Go To The Mirror!
  • Tribute
  • Double Team
    • with band intros & solos
  • Baby
  • Jesus Ranch
  • Fuck Her Gently

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