On Saturday, Tedeschi Trucks Band played their second show of a two-night run at Red Rocks. The show was pure spectacle, colors dancing across the rocks while some of the most talented musicians alive sent souls soaring over the horizon.
Texas-born country singer Vincent Neil Emerson kicked the night off with a strong set that featured a mix of his original works and country traditionals. At one point, he expressed his pride in being an Indigenous person and how excited he was to be playing on land once owned by Indigenous people. For those that may not know, the location that became Red Rocks was once protected by Native people until it was surrendered to Denver-based land developers in 1875. This is a fact that’s rarely called attention to so Emerson pointing it out during his set really held significance.
After Emerson’s set, Tedeschi Trucks Band hit the stage to thunderous applause before quickly launching into fan favorite “Anyhow.” The song had Susan Tedeschi shining as her voice soared and she took the first solo of the night. The universe must have taken note as lighting began to flash off in the distance, far enough off not to worry about but a powerful sight nonetheless. It was as if all the love and joy found in the music that night cracked the very sky so the gods could watch.
The band itself is huge. The obvious focal points are the eponymous married duo, potentially the most talented couple in the world. Derek Trucks is consistently hailed as one of the greatest guitar players alive, having been playing with legends such as the Allman Brothers since he was about 13. His solos sound like the songs the gods whistle to themselves. Susan Tedeschi is no slouch on the guitar herself and her voice is one that can shatter your heart to pieces and then put it back together again, making the audience feel like they’d each been struck by that lightning flashing over the horizon line, electric but alive.
As talented as they are, they’re also incredibly generous performers. Each of the 12 members of Tedeschi Trucks Band had a chance to shine. Their horn section consists of a trombone, a sax and a trumpet. Each was able to take multiple solos, most notably Kebbi Williams on the sax who absolutely brought the house down during “Circles ‘Round the Sun” about halfway through the show.
They also had two drummers, Isaac Eady and Tyler Greenwell, who were so locked in with each other throughout it was as if they were sharing one mind. The three backup vocalists also served as percussionists, playing shakers and tambourines throughout the night. One of the singers, Mike Mattison, took over singing duties from Susan on a few occasions, most notably when they covered The Rolling Stones’ tune “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker),” a personal favorite.
Keys player Gabe Dixon and bassist Brandon Boone tied the whole thing together, many times establishing throughlines during jams that were picked up and built upon by the rest of Tedeschi Trucks Band. It’s a testament to the sheer talent each person on that stage possesses that all of this didn’t spiral into chaos. Instead, the show was incredibly cohesive with moments of power and beauty that sent chills rippling throughout the crowd. These moments were juxtaposed with fiery yet patient solos of every variety, surprising covers such as “Dreams” by The Allman Brothers and a few hits like “Midnight in Harlem” thrown in for good measure.
The set ended with a cover of “Beck’s Bolero” by Jeff Beck, an interesting choice for a few reasons. Beck, known as one of the greatest and most influential guitar players of all time, passed away in January 2023. The song obviously served as a tribute to the late legend. Trucks’ playing has also been compared to Beck’s. Beck once spoke about the concept of “pulling notes” from the guitar. Trucks embodies this idea completely. Each note is savored, drawn out, almost lured out lovingly and with care. It’s a result of perfect tone and the use of a slide but very few have been able to replicate it.
The set came to a close but the encore came quickly while many in the crowd began to clear out. Tedeschi and Dixon returned for a beautiful cover of Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” The two of them playing alone together was refreshing, a bit of a palette cleanser after the sheer immensity of talent that had graced the stage that night. It didn’t last long, however. After the song, the rest of the band returned for an extended cover of Joe Cocker’s “Space Captain,” Mattison taking over vocals once again. The song is pure joy and celebration, a giant ode to love and togetherness. This emanated from the band as each member was given time to shine in the lights reflecting off the rocks. Eventually, it came to a close and those that remained made their way out, a piece of their souls still hanging above the rocks, intertwining with the clouds and becoming lightning.