Mountain & Rick Derringer Live!
The Ridgefield Playhouse-January 15, 2005
I looked forward to seeing the two rock legends Rick Derringer and Mountain for a long time. The trip to get there was long as well, over 3 hours. The venue was located out in the middle of nowhere U.S.A. and when we got there, it looked like a school rather than a playhouse. When we walked in and went to the box office my name was on the guest list, there was only one problem; 20 people overbooked the list. I was then informed that I had to go sit backstage because the auditorium held only 500 people and every seat was occupied. I figured it was small but not that small! So I went towards the back where there was a security guard, he gave me a hard time, so I decided to leave and head back out, there was no way I was going to sit backstage after making a long trip like that. I wanted to watch the concert. To make a long story short, I spoke with the right person, later to find out it was the Executive Director of the establishment. She let us stand behind the last row next to an emergency exit. This was a great view; it was so small there, it was comparable to being five rows back in the orchestra pit at medium sized concert hall. At this point I was grateful that I was not one of the journalist stuck backstage just listening. I looked forward to a fun night.
I have been listening to these two artists since the 70s so I feel fortunate that both acts are still touring. Leslie West (guitar, lead vocals) and Corky Laing (drums) remains the core of Mountain with newcomer Richie Scarlet (bass). Scarlet looked totally out of place on stage with West and Laing, in fact, he looked very rock ‘n’ roll last night, as if he could have been onstage with some of the 80s hair bands. Nevertheless, he is a fantastic bass player and showman.
Rick Derringer kicked things off with his mates Charlie Torres (bass) and Tom Curiale (drums). I noticed quickly how youthful Derringer looked and his voice sounded better than ever. I found out later after running into Charlie Torres, that he has been taking voice lessons to rebuild his voice to old form. Speaking of Torres, he was so animated and energetic all night, always laughing and joking while laying down some killer bass to form a rock solid rhythm section with Curiale. Derringer made his way through every decade since he started recording. We went back to when his was 16 years old singing “Hang on Sloopy” with the McCoy’s to instrumental jazz rock fusion tunes. Derringer is a legendary musician and producer; he has worked with some of the best in the world. His versatility is an amazing thing to watch on stage. Little did I know that he released a smooth jazz album in 2002 titled Free Ride. I suspect I was not the only person there that was surprised to hear this. I knew Derringer was great but it did not hit home until last night just how important and influential this man has been in music since the 60s.
He played a nice set filled with power and energy and left very quietly without an encore. After the Derringer performance, I was thinking...how could Mountain possible top this. After a 15-minute break, Leslie and the boys came out. While I think Derringer is a much more versatile guitarist than West, what I was about to witness I would never forget.
West is incredible. He is a gifted guitar player that can play circles around most of his contemporaries. Leslie’s voice still has the wallop that is necessary to get over power packed rock classics like “For Yasgur’s Farm,” “Mississippi Queen” and “Never In My Life.” The highlight of the night was when the band stepped off stage to let us view a sneak preview of a documentary on the legendary band Cream, who is reforming for a series of concerts this year. Right after that, they came back out and proceeded to treat us to a Cream medley. It was the highlight of the evening as they did the Cream legend justice. Something unusual took place on this night as well, West took a stool by himself on stage and sat down and played an acoustic guitar for the Dylan classic “Blowin’ In The Wind.” It was an excellent representation of the song, done with emotion and a clear vision of what Dylan wrote about so long ago. At one point West had the entire crowd singing with him, it was very cool. I was so impressed with Corky Laing and his prowess on the drum kit; I honestly believe I was witnessing one of the greatest rock drummers of all time. He threw more drumsticks into the audience than I have ever seen; I think people in the first few rows must have walked out with a set a piece. All three men are great entertainers. Their charisma and connection to each other was obvious.
This was a very special night indeed. I highly recommend that you catch both of these acts live, they may be getting on in years but they still have what it takes to make great music and put on a show you will never forget.
© Keith \"MuzikMan\" Hannaleck-http://www.muzikreviews.com
January 16, 2005
Hannaleck built and maintained his own website in 1998 while networking and building his reputation through countless reviews and interviews (since the year 2000 totaling over 2,000 articles online and counting), creating a special niche for himself. Through many years of dedication and hard work, he has reached a respected level of competence and knowledge that is frequently sought by the music industry today. Known for his speaking from the heart interpretations of music and being able to put it in layman’s terms for music fans, his work is found everywhere in cyberspace and in traditional print media, from press kits to quotes from reviews in magazine advertisements.
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