As John said in his post, we missed the first couple of tunes, but I did hear part of Early Morning Rain from the lobby. That is one of my favorite Lightfoot tunes that Tony ever recorded, I’m sorry I missed it. But there were plenty more where that one came from. I especially enjoyed Alison’s rendition of Song For A Winter’s Night.
The band sounded great on this material and Tony blended right into the band, not taking center stage until they gave it to him. Even the traditional bluegrass numbers they did from the Album Band repertoire where performed true to the way Rice recorded them, with no guitar solo. Let me tell you, there was no need. Tony’s rhythm was spectacular! I’ve always been a fan of his rhythm playing and he was in fine form Friday evening. Driving, tasteful, spicy, and grin inspiring, not to mention spot on timing, Tony’s rhythm was one of the highlights of the concert for me.
One thing that struck me was the obvious mutual respect on the stage. AKUS was very respectful of Tony, honoring him as a hero. But you tell he reciprocated that respect. Rice heaped praise on both Alison and Tyminski as being two of his favorite singers. Introducing one song, Tony made a comment to that effect and Jerry Douglas said “Thanks Tony” to much laughter from the audience. But seeing Douglas and Rice play together reminded you that these two have recorded and played together a lot down through the years. They have that synergy you sometimes see where it appears they are feeding off each other’s creativity and doing more together than they would either do alone.
The show included the funny stage banter we’ve come to expect from Alison. While introducing the band members, she referred to banjoist Ron Block as the bands “sexy librarian.” She also told a very funny story about a country fan who had a crush on Barry Bales at a show…and thought he was playing the cello!
During the final performance (they did come back for an encore) of Freeborn Man, they projected a slideshow of photos on the screen behind the band. The photos were mostly of Tony, though there were a few of Alison as well, with different bands and musicians he’s recorded and performed with over the years. It was a nice touch to add to what could be considered Tony’s signature song.
Overall, the show was entertaining and the music was excellent. I can’t wait for the recording of this tour to be released. It’s bound to be a classic instantly. I got the feeling toward the end of the show that this was one of those moments my children and grandchildren are likely to ask me about.