Thursday, February 08, 2007

Bass Madness

Wow. I saw Bx3 (or Bass times 3) last night at the Flamingo Cantina, featuring Jeff Berlin, Stu Hamm and Billy Sheehan. All 3 soloists were accompanied by Jude Gold and John Mader (basically they were "on" the whole time and extremely versatile).

Going in, I was first and foremost a Jeff Berlin fan. His albums with Bruford in the mid-70's still rank as some of my all-time favorites. The venue was nice, and small enough that I was situated within "spitting" distance of the stage. The show opened up with all 3 doing the Star Spangled Banner with Billy singing.

Jeff Berlin led off. He was a lot more entertaining and funny than I would have expected, and introduced his segment as the "Jazz" section (then immediately and hilariously told the sound man to "lock the doors"). His set was brilliant and he focused on his recent solo material. He declined a request from the crowd for Joe Frazier (Oh well). After seeing that, I decided not to bother him with a plea for 5G.

Seeing Jeff was a little strange for me. I had just recently purchased a copy of "Rock goes to College," a concert recording of Bruford's band from the BBC. It was recorded shortly after they had recorded "Feels Good to Me". In this video Jeff is in his late 20's or early 30's. Since he's now 55, I feel like I missed a good portion of his career. (But I really didn't. He just hasn't toured much ;(

Stu Hamm was 2nd and shifted out of jazz mode and into rock. He did a lot of two handed playing, basically converting his 4 string Bass into a Chapman Stick. One of the songs was a unique Beatles/Beethoven medley. Everything was tastefully done, and his segment was great.

Sheehan was last. I must admit that I had never really been interested in his playing before (and was actually disappointed by his last collaboration with Terry Bozzio). However, seeing him live made me change my mind a little. He was definitely the most energetic of the 3. He played some covers of Kings X Goldilocks and Jeff Beck's Led Boots. His motor never stops, he is quite the showman. His musicianship is much better than I had anticipated.

The night ended with a grand encore with all 3. The encore included covers of Clapton's Crossroads with Jeff singing, and Spinal Tap's Big Bottoms. Most impressive was the fact that the show lasted at least 2.5 hours (great value for a $15 cover).

The coup de grace for the night, was getting to talk to Jeff after the show, purchasing a copy of Aneurythms from him, and getting it autographed. Jeff is just a great person and really easy to talk to.

If you get the chance to go and see this tour, do it! Easily the best show I've seen this year in Austin. (Of course this year is only 5 weeks old).

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