February 28, 2014
House of Blues - Dallas
Dallas, TX USA
Review by David Brais
Photos by David Brais
Big Head Todd & The Monsters
A Room Full Of Monsters & The Blues
It was a evening of surprises for Big Head Todd and the Monsters on a sub zero degree night at the House of Blues in Cleveland, Ohio. Supporting their new CD release, The Black Beehive, Big Head Todd and the Monsters walk on stage and are greeted by a packed house which indecently is one of the largest turn outs for the band.
They wasted no time and kicked off the evening with one of the bands better known hits, and crowd favorites, "Bittersweet," followed by the funk blues based "Rock Steady" and "The Moose Song." For those in the crowd unfamiliar with BHTATM they were quickly introduced to the Chicago blues style guitar licks of lead singer/guitar Todd Clark Mohr, the driving bass of Rob Squires, the rhythm of Brian Neven on drums, and Jeremy Lawton on keyboard and laptop guitar.
On any other night Big Head Todd and the Monsters would have been totally sufficient for the Cleveland crowd but Todd pulled a few rabbits out of the hat to spice up the evening. Joining Todd on stage for a funky version of the Alvin Cash classic, "Twine Time," is his long time friend from Chicago, the 'Prince of Blues' Ronnie Baker Brooks. Ronnie may not have been a household name to the Cleveland HOB crowd but he would soon win them over with his song "Times Have Changed." His mad skills drip with confidence but when he and Todd begin trading blues licks the BHT fans will also become RBB fans. Ronnie may want to mark this date on his calendar as the day he joined BHT at the House of Blues and became a Cleveland favorite.
As if Ronnie Baker Brooks is not enough of a treat, Todd instantly turns his band into a classic R&B band when he brings out the sweetest soul singer in the land, Hazel Miller. Ronnie Baker Brooks and Hazel are featured in the cover of the Joe Tex classic funk/soul "Give the Baby Anything That the Baby Wants" followed by the cover of Eric Clapton's "Old Love/ICU in Everything." Tonight is also a sort of homecoming for Hazel. As a little girl she would go on vacation each March to visit her family in Cleveland. Her family came to her this time around and fill the VIP box seats at the HOB greeting her with the ovation only a family can give. She said it was like a home away from home.
The band ends their first 65 minute set with "Beautiful World" and "It's Alright." The second set is primarily BHTATM for the first 10 songs in which they highlight fan favorites such as "Please Don't Tell Her," "Muhammad Ali," "Circle," and the soon to be favorite "Black Beehive." Hazel and RBB revisit and join Todd for the Staple Singers classic, "Yes We Can," along with a funked up mix version of "Satisfaction/Respect Yourself" and finally ending with "We Won't Go Back."
After a brief ovation Todd wastes no time in coming back to the stage to show off his Delta Blues slide guitar techniques with "Travelin' Light," and a cover of Blind Lemon Jefferson's "Black Snake Moan." The rest of the band joins him for the final two songs "Sexy and I Know It" and "Hey Delila." Big Head Todd and the Monsters not only played two 65-70 minute sets, they also created new fans for Hazel Miller and Ronnie Baker Brooks.
As the crowd exited the HOB the names of Hazel Miller and Ronnie Baker Brooks were buzzing in the air. This was truly and evening full of surprises and a showcase of Chicago & Colorado friends all orchestrated by Big Head Todd and the Monsters.