Monday, May 10, 2010

Live review: Levon Helm Band

Posted By on Mon, May 10, 2010 at 11:00 AM

Levon Helm Band w/ The New Familiars

Knight Theater

May 7, 2010

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The Deal: Legendary drummer's solo outfit rambles into the Knight Theater; local band The New Familiars opens up the night.

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The Good: The evening got started at 8 p.m. with a 35-minute set by Charlotte's The New Familiars. The quartet did a fantastic job warming up their hometown crowd and the band's brand of Americana was a perfect fit for what was to come in the headlining slot. Though the band has become somewhat "plugged in" in recent years, forgoing the all-acoustic ways of its past, those Americana roots are still strong — if only a bit louder these days.

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Levon Helm made his way to the stage with cup in hand and smiles for all in attendance. It was entertaining just to watch Helm play the drums with his mostly-snare style instead of the typical hi-hat and snare combination. The band kicked off the night with "The Shape I'm In" and varied the members throughout the set as horns were brought in, Helm switched to mandolin and the atmosphere of one of his many "midnight rambles" was created inside the theatre.

The group played some of Helm's solo work, some songs from The Band in addition to a few covers including Bob Dylan's "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go" and The Grateful Dead's "Tennessee Jed" (which is on Helm's solo album) and the Jerry Garcia/R

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Guitar duties were shared by Larry Campbell and Jim Weider — both of whom had moments to shine during the night. Campbell also tore into a solo before "Chest Fever" at the end of the night.

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Campbell also offered his vocals to plenty of songs, including a beautiful rendition of "Attics of My Life" with Amy Helm and Teresa Williams. Helm, Levon's daughter, also plays with the band Ollabelle.

It should be no surprise that they ended the night with "The Weight" — no encores, just one nearly two-hour performance.

The Bad: Nothing to complain about — sure I would have liked to have heard more from his solo albums, but I'm content with the setlist as is. It's understandable that Helm's voice isn't what it once was — though I wish he would have sang a few more tunes than the four or five he did.

The Verdict: Helm looks like he has a blast every time he hits the stage — full of smiles and energy, he truly appears to enjoy every moment with an incredibly talented band to back him up. The entire lineup was a fantastic range of musicians who not only have the talent but appear to truly love each moment they share on stage performing together.

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Setlist

The Shape I'm In

Love Played a Game

Fannie Mae

You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go

Long Black Veil

Something to Remember

I Wanna Know

Midnight Highway

Deep Elem Blues

Attics of My Life

Tennessee Jed

Mardi Gras

Everybody Loves a Winner

Lamps Trimmed and Burning

Calvary

Makes No Difference

Chest Fever

The Weight

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