Wednesday, March 25, 2015

G. Love The Sugar Blues Tour Review

The Sugar Blues Tour came rolling through Charlotte on Saturday and absolutely smoked the Fillmore to the ground. 

The night started out on a mellow note when G. Love’s Brushfire Records label mate, Matt Costa, took on opening duties to warm the crowd up.  There was a pretty good crowd developing at the Fillmore when Costa started his set, but by the time G. Love & Special Sauce took the reigns - it was a packed house.

Garrett Dutton (a.k.a. G. Love) took the stage and greeted the North Carolina crowd slinging his white Les Paul and pumping his fist egging the crowd on which was already softening them up to become putty in his hands later.  Leaving the show, I really had a deeper appreciation for Dutton’s ability to work the crowd.  While Costa was good, Dutton sucked you in.  Between his charming and engaging personality onstage and his soulful playing - the crowd was drawn to him like a bug to a zapper.  As Dutton walked from end to end of the stage during his guitar solos, he was like a maestro playing the crowd.  It’s always great to see a good showman.

One thing I really noticed is what a monstrous sound these guys produce with only three people.  I’m no stranger to three-piece bands.  I’ve definitely seen my share with some of the notables being ZZ Top, Rush, and Emerson, Lake, & Palmer.  It’s very difficult to sound huge when there are only three guys playing on stage.  If they aren’t tight and there’s no rhythm guitar, or extra keyboards, etc. to cover it up – you’re going to know in a hurry.  With that being said, the band was as tight as I’ve ever heard them and man, did that make for a full sound.

Speaking of the band

I once heard an interview with Sammy Hagar where he was describing how he never knew how important Michael and Alex were to Van Halen until he joined the band.  IMHO, the same thought can be applied to Special Sauce as well. 

I understand that G. Love is the focal point and he’s the one working the audience - but what you might miss if you’re not paying attention is just how spectacular Special Sauce is.  Jeff and Jimi hold the fort down like no other.  The two of them create so much force and at the same time leave a nice pocket for Dutton to do his thing in.  Jeff “The Houseman” Clemens is a true monster on the drums.  Not only is he rock solid, but he really produces a powerful sound and I personally dig his tones.  Jimi Jazz on the other hand is a variable force on the upright bass.  He fed it through a couple of Ampegs that, along with The Houseman’s kit, drove the show all night.  For those of you who haven’t seen this leg of the tour yet, I challenge you to really take in what Special Sauce is doing up there because it will blow you away if you pay attention.

The Set list

The set list consisted of a mix of old and new songs so whatever type of fan of the band you are, you’ll hear something that you like.  We heard it all that night; “Baby’s Got Sauce”, “Fat Man”, “Too Much Month”, “Sugar”, “Come Up Man”, “Cold Beverage” “Weekend Dance”, “Fixin’ To Die” - you get the point!  They weren’t shy about mixing up the catalog. 

The first cover of the night came when the band ripped through “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road” – which was welcomed with open arms.  It’s hard to get Beatles songs right, but Dutton and crew definitely did that song justice with their beefed-up blues version.  Macca would be a proud papa if he ever saw it live (In fact the band’s version would’ve been worthy of The Beatles 50th anniversary special that aired not too long ago).  The other cover was of Weezer’s “Say It Ain’t’ So”.  If by any slim chance the band didn’t have a member of the crowd in their back pocket - at that point, it was a done deal with this cover.  The Fillmore absolutely ate up what they were servin’ on that one.

For all of you G. Love fans - at this show you’re going to hear old stuff, new stuff, and everything in between.  You’ll hear rocking covers, and dirty swamp acoustic numbers; it’s all here.  If this tour is coming to a town near you, do not hesitate, do not pass go, do not collect $200 – just go to the show.  It’s the best I’ve seen G. Love & Special Sauce.  They are really on their “A” game right now.  The chemistry is flowing, Dutton’s voice sounds great, and they are putting on one hell of a show.  If you’re a fan of the band, or you like dirty, nasty soulful blues with a little hip-hop laid over it – make sure you check out The Sugar Blues Tour featuring G. Love & Special Sauce.

Below you can find some pictures that I took at the show.

PS – For an interview I did with G. Love about the Sugar album and this tour click HERE

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