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Maybe the name of the band should be Trial by Audience. New band, new music. The frontman, blues-rock guitarist Robben Ford, said it was the first time they'd played it for anyone. It was groundbreaking, but commercially viable? Ford said they have an album ready, but for reasons "beyond their control it hasn't been released yet." Hmm...

The music: it was as if Robben said we're going to have a new band that rocks, but all the chords we play have to be jazz chords -- 9ths, 13ths, etc. Not your average three-chords-and-the-truth band. Interspersed in the music were enough Ford licks to keep this fan happy. His guitar playing was masterful.

They started off with a familiar song, "Just Like It Is," and then delved into the unknown. Halfway through the show they announced a song called "The Underwear Song." I think someone in the audience called it "The Underwear Bomber Song." Overall the new music was less than enthusiastically received. About 50 minutes in they went into full-blown blues mode, which got the crowd going. They revived the blues staple "Spoonful" in a creative, well-received rendition.

The additional guitarist, Mike Landau, is a very laid back guitar-slinger in the vein of Jeff Beck, wrangling a variety of sounds from his Stratocaster. He did sing more than Ford, but I couldn't hear the vocals as I was happily blasted by Ford's amp. The addition of the accomplished Yellowjackets veteran Jimmy Haslip was puzzling; his talent was not showcased here. I was waiting for a solo that never came.

  • Concert: Trial by Fire
  • Show date: January 7, 2010
  • Venue: Belly Up
  • Seats: front and center
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