Saturday, April 28, 2012

Trampled Under Turtles’ Feet

The Paradise Rock Club, Boston, 4/18/12 (Another Sick Frank photo)

I saw some rockin’ bluegrass last week at The Paradise courtesy of Trampled By Turtles. It was the third time I’d see the string-slinging quintet from Minnesota, but the first time I’d seen them performing standing up, which clearly put extra kick in their boots. Of particular note was Ryan Young’s alternatively frenetic and hauntingly forlorn fiddle. Young sparred playfully with Erik Berry’s lickety-split mando melodies and machine gun-like chording. When all five musicians put pedal to metal they accelerated into an acoustic rave up that would’ve made The Yardbirds proud.

The ecstatic sell-out crowd was well familiar with the Turtles’ catalog, singing along with singer/guitarist Dave Simonett on many old faves (e.g., “Codeine,” “Darkness and the Light” and “Wait So Long”), while fervently persistent in their unrequited requests for others (“Whiskey”). It’s worth noting too that six songs from the just-released Stars and Satellites record fit right in with the Turtles’ classics, despite the overall mellower tone of the new collection.

For the uninitiated, the cumulative sound of Trampled By Turtles live suggests something like the Del McCoury Band meets Uncle Tupelo with a dash of Fisherman’s Blues-era Waterboys and a pinch of Ramones. All that is to say that not only do these guys have the authentic bluegrass chops to hold their own at any ’grass fest, an earned maturity and confidence means they comfortably and effectively transcend the genre. They were right at home in rock environs and they ripped the joint.

The Turtles really hit stride a few songs in with “It’s a War,” from their great 2010 release Palomino, and the intensity rarely waned—whether they were playing fast or slow—for the remainder of the 100 minute set. They concluded the main set with a jangley, R.E.M.-ish rendition of “Separate,” followed by a buoyantly rousing “Wait So Long” and an epic “Alone,” the latter featuring all five members of openers These United States joining in on backing vocals. The North Country quintet returned for a frenzied run through “Feet and Bones” before signing off with a somber, lonesome-fiddle fueled “Again.”     

The Paradise Rock Club, Boston, Mass.  4/18/12
Midnight on the Interstate
Help You
Widower’s Heart
New Orleans
It’s a War
The Darkness and the Light
(?) Still in Love with You 
High Water
Don’t Look Down
Bloodshot Eyes
Walt Whitman
Wait So Long
Feet and Bones

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