Fabrice Coffrini, AFP There are a myriad of genres one can associate with…
- Posted on Nov 18th 2010 11:50AM by DJ Lanphier
It's easy to see why people might be given to talking in certain terms about Lanois; he's all those things and more to be sure. His solo career, as well as his work with artists like U2, Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris, Peter Gabriel and the Neville Brothers, speaks for itself. Yet, when you strip it all down, remove all the rhetoric and the hype, and concentrate on what remains -- as Lanois has done with Black Dub -- what you're left with is the pure, unadulterated joy of playing music. It was palpable in the room and visible on the faces of Lanois and his bandmates as they interacted and played into the night.
Onstage, Lanois works from the center of Black Dub like a seasoned conductor. His influence is felt, but he's only one ingredient in the boiling cauldron that makes up the band, and he knows it. It's a deceptively simple and synergistic combo, and Lanois lets each member find their place within the whole, allowing them to stretch out as needed. He then brings it all back to the center with grace and authority.
Drummer Brian Blade simmers slightly below the surface, his primal, percolating beat keeps it all moving forward, always hinting at a possible eruption yet somehow managing to never actually boil over. Jim Wilson, on bass and backing vocals, keeps it solid while playing with the melodic possibilities that round it all out nicely. And, then there's Trixie Whitley.
A force of nature, the daughter of late blues man Chris Whitley mixes a touch of Etta James with echoes of Janis Joplin's energy, her voice raw and filled with possibilities. She also sat behind the drums on a few tunes, holding her own with the indomitable Brian Blade. If Lanois is the center of gravity within Black Dub, Whitley is the bright sun that bursts forth to shine a little daylight onto the proceedings. As the audience stood transfixed by her performances of 'I Believe in You,' 'Surely' and 'I'd Rather Go Blind,' her powerful R&B style vocals made believers out of those in the Ballroom.
When the show ended, the audience demanded an encore and the band played 'The Maker' from Lanois' first album 'Acadie.' As the song climbed and soared, the members of Black Dub once again traded big smiles, truly enjoying not only the honest outpouring of affection from the audience, but also the act of just playing music together. Lanois has been through a great deal the past few months, recuperating from a near-fatal motorcycle accident. His joy at once again being able to play music in front of people was there for all to see. As the audience applauded and cheered him on, he took hold of the microphone for one last time that evening. "We're truly lucky to be playing at all," he said sincerely. "Thank you."