Zac Brown's Musical Elixir

Zac Brown's Musical Elixir

by JasonBryan / Oct 13, 2015 / 0 comments
Friday, 9 October 2015

Zac Brown brought his band on their Jekyll + Hyde tour to the Hollywood Bowl last night (10/09/15) for the first of their two nights at the venue. They were preceded by the up-and-coming female duo Muddy Magnolias. An interesting name, and their bluesy soulful gospel sound is right out of the Mississippi river basin. Their opening song “American Woman” was not a cover of the Canadian rock band The Guess Who, but in contrast more of a rebuttal, celebrating female strength, and how she’s not going to put up with the man’s crap. It definitely has hit potential. After a handful of songs highlighting their strong vocals, harmonies and their Christian roots, they took their bow.

The stage for the main act had a platform elevated approximately 15 feet from the base of the stage, with both a standard drum and a congo set, and additional room for back up singers as needed. The platform had a giant screen across its entire face. When the music started the center of it opened, like giant cupboard doors and Zac Brown emerged strumming his acoustic guitar as “Homegrown” was already in full swing. The crowd got right into it with them. Like the song says “I’ve got everything I need, and nothing that I don’t.” For fans of live music, it’s a place that many a concert can take you. They went into “Knee Deep” next, which is one of my favorites. I have a thing for the Island Music sub genre, and the ocean images on the big screen behind the band had me in the Caribbean, perhaps slightly aided by the muggy LA night. Later they also played “Toes”, which featured horns playing a traditional Mexican riff to accompany “adios and vaya con dios”, which was a great addition. He also played “Castaway” in this same island style. Paradise was always only a song away.

I’ve pointed out in past reviews that I’m a fan of cover songs, maybe it’s an old fashioned like for the concept of standards, or maybe its liking to hear people paying tribute to their inspiration, but I always enjoy it. The band went into a slightly faster, if you can believe it, version of Charlie Daniel’s Band’s “Devil Went Down to Georgia”. They also covered Red Hot Chile Pepper’s “Under the Bridge”, and ended the second set with Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”, with the entire Bowl singing along, it also featured a recreation of the Queen music video highlighting the cheesy video effects of the bands faces overlaid over a black background. It was brilliant. If you don’t know what I’m talking about watch the Queen video, you’ll thank me twice. They also book ended John Mayer’s “Neon“ with Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely”, and covered lesser-known Jason Isbell’s “Dress Blues”, which they have on their latest album, Jekyll + Hyde.

I’m getting a little ahead of myself. The tour is Jekyll + Hyde, and they played a series of songs, had an intermission, and then came out in new outfits playing “Day for the Dead”. Zac had a maroon velvet voodoo style top hat with a giant feather in it, kind of like a real life bad-ass version of Dr. Teeth. Zac played an electric guitar for the first number after the break, so maybe it was a tribute of sorts to Electric Mayhem. The video images took over a darker more psychedelic look too, and a horn section was added. There was a spot when the song went into the bridge, and every band member did the step and turn in unison for a couple of measures, it was classic. At first I was excited to see where this new direction was going, but was wondering how “Devil Went Down to Georgia” which they played earlier fit into Jekyll not Hyde, and as the set went on, there really wasn’t a musical difference other than the addition of the three piece horn section for selected songs. The bands performance was solid throughout the night, despite not having a clear musical identity shift.

Its great to see a band with a lot of radio play just playing what they want. They did announce that since it was the first of two nights they would be playing a different set list both nights. Another of my favorite moments, was during “Loving You Easy”, (a song which at first I didn’t love because it was being played on the country station, and its not country, its R & B, but it’s a good song, so I just learned to love it every time I heard it) they went into what I’ll just refer to as a Blues Brothers horn riff . They put on a very solid show and it’s easy to see how they have the potential and the following to evolve into one of the next generation’s perpetual touring jam bands. They came out for the encores and did “Beautiful Drug” and closed the show with their first hit “Chicken Fried”, which is still as good as the first time you heard it.

*Photo Credits Southern Reel

Rating out of 11: