There is no better way to celebrate music than to fuse two genres together to make a sound that’s larger than life. That’s exactly what happened Saturday night at Boettcher Concert Hall, where the iconic Colorado Symphony and legendary funk band Lettuce joined forces to create a live music performance unlike any other. Both entities have devoted fan bases and decades of experience under their belts, and they both brought their talent and expertise to change the way their audience will approach future live productions forever.
The Colorado Symphony opened up their arms at their home court and welcomed the East coast band warmly. Lettuce is used to being the guest on stage, as their constant tour schedule prevents them from playing the same venue too often. Their most recent release, contemporary jazz-fusion LP Witches Stew, assisted them in their continuous aim to push the boundaries on the limits of genre and pay homage to Miles Davis, one of their biggest influences as a band. For their debut with the Colorado Symphony, Lettuce worked closely with multi-instrumentalist Tom Hagerman, of DeVotchKa and previous collaborations with the Colorado Symphony, to create a larger than life orchestration that truly brought the house down.
The evening began just after 7:30 p.m. when the symphony took their seats and the band members walked on stage, dressed much more formally than normal in full tuxedos. Bassist Erick “Jesus” Coomes still had his signature long hair, hat and psyched up energy as he encouraged the crowd to make noise. The band positioned themselves in front of associate conductor Chris Dragon and the group of musicians kicked off their set with an exciting drop into “Mt. Crushmore.”
The light show took flight after about three songs, and it was interesting to imagine what the high contrast of the colors must seem like compared to a normal night with the symphony. If the symphony felt out of place, it was impossible to tell. The songs were familiar yet surely heightened by the added sounds. The band and symphony went back and forth between playing together and the symphony stepping back and opening the space to just the band. Just after 8:30 p.m., the show took a brief intermission.
After the break, the setlist continued to bump the crowd, whether fans were there for the symphony or funk band. Coomes rocked up and down and drummer Adam Deitch took the reigns into a short but sweet solo. Keyboardist Nigel Hall brought lyrics into the night, growing emotional after a performance of “It’s Time to Go.” After a few more songs, the band and Symphony took their bows and left the stage, only to return a moment later to perform the encore “Trapezoid.”
The marriage of these two groups of highly talented musicians proved to be the evening of the season. The effort and immense preparation that must have been required for such an event were wildly apparent. As the evening came down to a close, emotions ran high from the prolific and idiosyncratic segment. Whichever side of fandom one may have started the evening on, either for Lettuce or the Colorado Symphony, it would have been impossible to not stand right down the aisle after the night was over.