LIVE: Garry Tallent @ the Hangar on the Hudson, 5/9/17
Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Ed Conway
In fact, I’m pretty sure that he didn’t even mention Springsteen’s name at any time during his 115-minute show.
He didn’t need to. He’s played at Springsteen’s side for 46 years and counting, but this night was all about his long-overdue solo album, Break Time, and Tallent made the most of it, playing every one of the album’s dozen songs and a batch of vintage covers, too.
The music was rooted in the ’50s, the days before rock ‘n’ roll became rock. It ranged from the opening Cajun stomper “Bayou Love” to the deep twang stroll of “Promise to My Heart” (Kristi Rose taking over the lead vocal for a tour de force performance), from the country-soul ballad “If Love Would Change Your Mind” to the revved-up romp of “Ooh La La” to the gospel rave-up “Say It Out Loud.”
A week into the tour, Tallent was still finding his footing as a bandleader and frontman, but that’s to be expected. Wisely, he has surrounded himself with a half dozen ace musicians, led by the unmasked Los Straitjackets’ guitarslinger and Rensselaer native Eddie Angel, who also served as co-producer on Break Time.
In the E Street Band, Tallent anchors the band on bass, but with his own band he played guitar exclusively, handing over the bass chores to rockabilly cat Mark W. Winchester on the stand-up bass. He’s not a bad guitarist, either, but it was certainly a bit odd to see Angel playing second string.
Tallent was generous with the spotlight, however. Angel took the lead on a couple of instrumentals – his own ’81 debut single “Rampage” and an impromptu “Telstar” as a bit of filler after Tallent broke a guitar string during “I Love ‘Em All.” Winchester took the lead vocal for his own steam-rollin’ “Hillbilly Train,” and keyboardist Kevin McKendree turned the heat way up with the rip-snortin’, piano-poundin’ boogie woogie instrumental, “Gone Awry.”
Angel’s old Los Straitjackets drummer Jimmy Lester kept the tunes pumped up, and the multi-talented, ever-tasteful Fats Kaplin proved to be the MVP of the band, flavoring each song with his prowess on acoustic guitar, tenor banjo, accordion, fiddle or lap steel.
Tallent peppered the show with some vintage gems, including Sonny Burgess’ “If I Could I Would,” Carl Perkins’ “Pink Pedal Pushers” and Buddy Holly’s “Cryin’, Waitin’, Hopin’ (Tallent’s best vocal of the night).
And his original tunes never veered far from the work of the rock architects, whether it was the Chuck Berry chug of “Why Do You Do Me Like That” or the big, bad Bo Diddley beat of the show-closing “Charlene.”
Yes, Tallent was kickin’ it old-school, and it was obviously in his blood.
GARRY TALLENT SET LIST
Ants in Her Pants
Ooh La La
Tell Him I’m Broke
Hillbilly Train (Mark W. Winchester)
If I Could I Would (Sonny Burgess)
Rampage (Eddie Angel)
Rock Boppin’ Baby (the Collins Kids)
Promise to My Heart
Pink Pedal Pushers (Carl Perkins)
I Love ‘Em All
Telstar (The Tornados) (first performance of the tour)
Apache (The Shadows)
Cryin’, Waitin’, Hopin’ (Buddy Holly)
If Love Would Change Your Mind
Today’s the Day
Say It Out Loud
Why Do You Do Me Like That
Movin’ Too Slow
Move to Japan (The Band)