Music is good for the soul while you're listening to it. A live concert raises raises your spirits and keeps you moving for some time afterward. A Little Feat show, though, is a Hallelujah! occurrence and an almost religious experience that lasts a lifetime and the memory will pop up when you need it. That is exactly what happened when one of the all-time great live bands brought their Waiting For Columbus Tour to the beautiful Majestic Theater.
Amy Helm opened the show with her four-piece band behind her. The lively and lilting tunes fit her voice perfectly and her emotion shined through with movements that showed she used all aspects of performing in addition to the words and music. Amy's seven-song set included the Midnight Ramble horns, her on the mandolin and an appearance by Bill Payne on the keys. She also sang a hymn she used to sing with her father, the late, great Levon Helm, and she earned a lot of new fans this night. Local celebrities such as Andy Timmons, Monte Montgomery and Mike Rhyner took in the show and loved it.
The large crowd of old and new fans did not wait patiently for the stars. Most knew what to expect and they wanted it soon. Little Feat sensed that and came out as soon as the set change was complete. Billy Payne sounded great as they opened with "Fat Man In The Bathtub" and, as the band always does, turned it into a jam session, with Fred Tackett and Scott Sharrard playing competing riffs. The jams happened during almost every song and complemented the lyrics well to turn every song into a classic.
Sharrard provided another exceptional voice as he and Payne traded vocals all night. Playing the entire Waiting For Columbus album, fans knew every song by heart and sang along. They continued to do so for "Oh Atlanta" as the band was engaging and played to the crowd. The fans were in time, too, as they clapped to the 2 and 4 beat, not 1 and 3 as so many casual fans do.
Tony Leone on drums provided the vocals for "Old Folks Boogie"as Payne led the jam with a solo on the keys. Tackett showed his chops by using a tapping pencil as a pick on one song and everyone soloed on another to please every fan in the venue. Tackett even blew the trumpet and Sharrard played the slide and the Midnight Ramble horns wailed away as every song was met with cheers by the veteran concert-goers.
Sam Clayton led the conga-centric "Spanish Moon" and the first notes sparked a fury of fists into the air. The yelling never died down before Tackett again played the trumpet before Payne played the opening notes of "Dixie Chicken" as the audience erupted once again into a frenzied dancing-singalong. The ensuing jam lasted several minutes and earned LF a well-earned standing ovation. They changed tempo for the next song and, again, they changed tempo mid-song as only a band who has played together for so long can do.
Amy Helm joined the band and listeners expected something big. They got it and screamed as "Willin'" began. Eardrums popped and voices strained as Sharrard sang the lyric, "Alice, Dallas Alice." It was another highlight of the night and was immediately followed by the next highlight as they "mangled, forgot the words and coughed " their way through "Don't Bogart That Joint."
The hits didn't stop as the New Orleans jazz boogie "Sailin' Shoes" kept the crowd on their feet and they stayed upright for "Feats Don't Fail Me Now." This fantastic ending song was another extended jam boogie that would have ended the night on a high note, but there was more. The two-song encore ended with more dancing in the aisles with the big-time boogie version of "Skin It Back."
Little Feat played for two hours and kept the crowd enthralled every minute. One of the seminal bands to emerge from the fusion of rock, country, jazz, Americana and boogie give it their all every time they play. The interest in the band has not waned over the years as they continually make new fans by their music, energy and involvement with their fans. See them and Amy Helm at any opportunity.
Special thanks to Kimberly Iberico and the Majestic Theater staff for all their help.