The venerable band jammed out Saturday to memorable songs from ‘Waiting for Columbus’ for a near-capacity crowd. The review, plus photos from other W. Michigan concerts, including Mitchell Tenpenny.
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As the final track on a milestone 1978 live album, “Feats Don’t Fail Me Now” might be the perfect exclamation point for a triumphant Little Feat concert.
Not only does the upbeat track by an esteemed band with a 53-year history sport all the infectious, genre-melding elements of classic Little Feat gems, but the message behind it on Saturday was true to form.
The venerable Little Feat certainly didn’t fail to impress ebullient fans gathered for the tour stop at Kalamazoo State Theatre, but rather continued to “roll right through the night” in impressive fashion, as that signature song so aptly puts it.
Of course, for baby boomer fans raised on the robust songs by a band celebrating the 45th anniversary of much-beloved live rock album, “Old Folks’ Boogie” proved to be a central theme of the night, too.
The second stop on the band’s 2022 “Waiting for Columbus” tour was everything keyboardist and co-founder Bill Payne had said he hoped it would be.
“There are iconic songs on that record starting with ‘Fat Man in the Bathtub’ … and there’s breadth of music,” he told Local Spins. “We’ve got a lot of genres covered in a tight space of time. It just really works.” (Read the full Local Spins interview with Payne.)
And work it did, thanks in great part to what Payne calls the current band lineup’s “amazing” chemistry and instrumental prowess.
While the sound mix was a bit muddy at times – particularly for the keyboards and some vocals – the enthusiasm of diehard fans who recognized and sang along to everything from “Willin’” to “Sailin’ Shoes” clearly invigorated band members who jammed out jubilantly on extended versions of nearly every song during the two-hour show.
A TRUE ‘CELEBRATION’ OF ‘WAITING FOR COLUMBUS’
The evening began with an opening 30-minute set by the lovable, Nashville-based duo Ida Mae – a rocking, country blues, British-Americana version of The White Stripes that won over the audience with its energy and harmonies.
Little Feat followed that with a track-for-track re-reading of “Waiting for Columbus” that Payne called a true “celebration of the album.”
The six-piece band – Payne, guitarists Fred Tackett and Scott Sharrard, percussionist Sam Clayton, bassist Kenny Gradney and drummer Tony Leone – was further enhanced by a three-piece horn section, with all nine confidently and comfortably delivering a fusillade of vintage gems that weaved jazz, funky folk, soul and blues into the mix.
Highlights, not surprisingly, included audience-enlivening takes on “Dixie Chicken,” “Spanish Moon” and “Tripe Face Boogie,” with Payne always directing traffic while cementing his reputation as one of rock’s all-time best keyboard gurus.
The unheralded star of the night may have been Sharrard, whose blistering-yet-tasteful lead solos on songs such as “Day or Night” had fans on their feet and roaring.
“You’ve been so incredible tonight,” Sharrard gushed near the end of a show that featured an encore rendition of 1990’s “Texas Twister.” “We love you guys so much.”
The devotees who cheered for their heroes, lined up for T-shirts and belted out familiar lyrics loved ’em right back.
Time really does love a hero.
PHOTO GALLERY: Little Feat, Ida Mae at Kalamazoo State Theatre
Photos by Derek Ketchum
PHOTO GALLERY: Mitchell Tenpenny, Alana Springsteen at The Intersection (Saturday)
Photos by Eric Stoike
PHOTO GALLERY: Martin Sexton, Chris Trapper at Wealthy Theatre (Saturday)
Photos by Anna Sink