Jonny Lang & openers Moreland & Arbuckle
June 28, 2011 @ BB King’s Blues Club
This was an odd show for me for two reasons.
- I didn’t know any of Lang’s material
- I got stuck near the most disrespectful audience members I’ve ever encountered
Why’d I go to the show?
I know Jonny Lang from his collaboration with other artists. I’ve heard him play, and he’s always been good. Plus, any guitarist who has earned the respect of Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton & Carlos Santana is a guitarist worth watching.
The Opener – Moreland & Arbuckle
Every so often an opening act takes you by surprise. Moreland & Arbuckle almost knocked me on my ass.
They’re a stripped down, hard rocking, heavy blues band. These guys all clearly live and breathe rootsy blues music. They were all excellent, but what stood out to me was the band’s synergy, passion & guitarist Aaron Moreland.
Moreland played most of the show on a four string cigar box guitar. It sounded like he had a bass string on it, and three guitar strings (I could be wrong). He played the hell out of that thing with a metal slide, and damn near melted my face off. It was fun to see.
The M&R guys successfully sold me a few albums, and I hope I get to see them again soon.
Their new album Just Had a Dream is due on August 23.
Moreland & Arbuckle set the bar really high. Fortunately Jonny Lang & Co. put on one of the finest shows I’ve seen.
Jonny is a psychotic guitarist, and man is his voice soulful.
Then there was his band. I can’t get over how much talent he packed on that stage. These guys were total monsters, and when they got to jamming, they made the music soar. When they took solos they each displayed a terrifying amount of technical skill, class and soul. It’s hard to find the balance, and they all did.
Finally, there was Barry Alexander, Jonny’s drummer. He combines raw power and total control in unspeakable ways. No one as big as Alexander should be that nimble and quick.
(Watch the whole thing to get an idea of his range, watch the second half if you just want to be impressed)
Alexander’s solo made my week.
I see a lot of live music, and I’ve dealt with my fair share of obnoxious drunks, but last night I met the most disruptive concert attendees I’ve ever encountered.
We had a pair of couples next to us who wouldn’t stop talking. The music got loud, they got louder. The music got quiet, they stayed loud. If you’ve never listened to Lang, he pretty much plays as much quiet music as he does loud.
My girlfriend and I took turns politely asking them to keep it down. After all, it wasn’t a cheap show to see. Each request worked for about a minute before they returned to conversing at the top of their lungs.
After about four polite requests, they were yelling over a beautiful acoustic piece and in desperation I yelled, “WOULD YOU PLEASE JUST SHUT UP!”
They yelled back, “We’re in church.” Which was true, but besides the point.
Then, the cherry on this insane sundae came a minute or so later when one of the guys approached me and expressed his desire to assault me. Now most people don’t know this, but I don’t take kindly to threats of physical violence, and years of being a scrawny geek taught me that backing down from people like this usually makes matters worse.
I hate fighting, but I’m not a pacifist. I’ve learned that most fights can be avoided by scaring the shit out of the aggressor. I turned on the crazy eyes and explained to him with some rather colorful language what would happen should he choose to throw a punch. It worked again, and he backed off.
But seriously, who the hell tries to start a fight during a quiet emo-bluesey acoustic song at a Jonny Lang concert?
Bunch of savages in this town.
The show was great in spite of the disruptions. I didn’t know Lang’s music, and I still loved the show. He made a fan out of me.
I’d love to see Moreland & Arbuckle and Jonny Lang again soon. Hopefully next time I won’t have to deal with nasty, self-important drunks.