Review by Fred Rudofsky
Photographs by Timothy Reidy
“Could it be true? Revolution Hall is going to be rocking like in its heyday?” That was the predominant thought likely rattling in the minds of those walking into Revolution Hall on the chilly Friday eve before Christmas Eve. With Super 400 headlining a triple bill – also featuring the Charlie Watts Riots and Fort Rooster – to ring out 2011 and stock the shelves of a local food food bank, the answer was a resounding yes!
Sure, the interior of Revolution Hall had changed quite a bit since its jarring transition to a special events venue, but the vibe before Super 400 went on was one of intense anticipation and good will. Once on stage, the finest rock trio on the scene today ripped into “Needle Down” from their recent masterpiece “Sweet Fist” and never let up. A pair of songs from “3 and the Beast” – “Push Back Now” and “It’s Gonna Burst” – realigned the shockras of everybody from the floor to the balconies, while “Green Grass End” had many singing along to its irresistible chorus. Bassist Lori Friday took the lead vocals on the funky original “Flashlight,” and “On Fire” had folks out on the dance floor.
Mid-set, the band reached deep into some cover songs and their own catalog as well, showing not only good taste, but daring. It takes soul and chops to cover Prince’s “The Cross,” but ace singer-guitarist Kenny Hohman plunged into the song about hard won devotion and made a joyful noise. Sly and the Family Stone’s “Don’t Burn Baby” got a revved up treatment, allowing drummer Joe Daley to groove with gusto and prompting Friday herself to echo a fan in the balcony’s sentiments: “Love that Sly Stone!”
With Daley slicing and dicing time like a ninja, “Black Eyed Dog” from the band’s eponymous debut rocked hard in ebb and flow style, the guitar riffs oscillating like bagpipes into the crowd. Long a favorite in the Super 400 repertoire, the Rolling Stones’ “Happy” elevated the holiday spirits of all, no doubt fueled by the fact that Lori Friday, who had suffered a
severe accident last winter, was singing the chorus with a radiant smile and tossing out t-shirts to the sea of hands at the end of the song.
A trio of songs from “Sweet Fist” – “FFMN,” “Wave” and “Thorn Tree” – reaffirmed the undeniable telepathy and lyricism these gifted musicians display. Likewise, Carole King’s “I Feel the Earth Move” would have made Jimi Hendrix grin, given its Band of Gypsys arrangement and go-for-broke momentum. “I Ain’t Got You,” originally by Chicago blues legend Billy Boy Arnold (and later made famous by the Yardbirds) was a great showcase for Friday’s singing and fluid bass playing and Hohman’s wonderfully berserk bends on his weathered Telecaster. Digging deep into the early years, Super 400 blasted out a fine rendition of “High Hopes,” and then returned for a powerful one-two punch encore of “Another Heavy Word” and “Emergency” that had the fervent crowd agape.
Viva Super 400!