Tedeschi Trucks Band headlines venues of many sizes across the country, but in New York City, the band usually headlines a string of nights at the intimate Beacon Theatre. This was an annual tradition until the band announced recently that it would headline “Garden Parties” at Boston’s TD Garden and New York City’s Madison Square Garden. The latter concert would be TTB’s debut performance at the World’s Most Famous Arena.
Both Garden Parties promised guest performers. In Boston, Warren Haynes, leader of Gov’t Mule and Derek Trucks’ former bandmate of 14 years in the Allman Brothers Band, joined TTB on the Allman Brothers Band’s “Blue Sky” and “Dreams,” as well as Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic” and Dr. John’s “I Walk on Gilded Splinters.” In New York City, Phish’s Trey Anastasio and Norah Jones, both of whom had jammed with TTB in the past, returned to play with TTB. In both cities, support act Lukas Nelson also joined TTB on stage for a few songs.
Since husband and wife Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi paused their respective solo careers in 2010 to a form the Tedeschi Trucks Band, the blues-rock ensemble has grown to 12 members. Throughout the two-and-a-half hour concert at Madison Square Garden, the musicians jammed on TTB originals and several covers. Tedeschi’s vocals and guitar leads and Trucks’ guitar leads reigned over the arrangements, but each of the other musicians also had their moments in the spotlight.
Tedeschi’s role would not be understated; starting with the first song, “Anyhow,” she belted the vocals and scorched on lead guitar. Not to be left behind, Trucks ripped into the next song, “Playing With My Emotions,” with the band augmenting his and Tedeschi’s guitar riffs and leads. Trucks wailed on guitar throughout the set, especially when he and a smaller subset of the band jammed on the approximately 20-minute instrumental “Pasaquan.” Later, again commanding the spotlight, Tedeschi sang beautifully on John Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery,” accompanied only by Dixon on keyboards, Brandon Boone on bass, and Isaac Eady and Tyler Greenwell on percussion; this night’s version included a snippet of the Grateful Dead’s “Sugaree.”
The band arrangements varied from song to song. The horn section (saxophonist Kebbi Williams, trombone player Elizabeth Lea and trumpet player Ephraim Owens) pumped “Ain’t That Something” and other songs. “Part of Me” provided the first of many extended jams, featuring Trucks’ guitar, Greenwell and Eady’s drum duel, and Williams’ saxophone. Mike Mattison stepped forward from his fellow harmony vocalists Mark Rivers and Alecia Chakour to sing lead on the Rolling Stones’ “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker).” Keyboardist Gabe Dixon sang the lead on “I Am the Moon.”
The invited guests had their stellar moments, as well. About an hour into the program, Tedeschi introduced Norah Jones, and the two sang a duet of John Hiatt’s “Have a Little Faith in Me,” accompanied only by Jones’ electric piano. Tedeschi and Jones continued to duet on a rocking version of Tom Petty’s “You Wreck Me,” accompanied by the full band. (This was the first time either of those songs was performed at a TTB concert.)
Trey Anastasio helped close the main set singing and playing guitar on the Who’s “The Seeker,” followed by Derek & the Dominos’ “Bell Bottom Blues” and “Layla.” This was the first time TTB performed “The Seeker” and it was punctuated with Tedeschi, Trucks, and Anastasio trading guitar riffs. Lukas Nelson also joined in for “Layla,” as four guitarists traded licks.
Starting the four-song encore, Nelson and Tedeschi sang together on Leon Russell’s “A Song for You,” the first time TTB has included the song in the repertoire since 2018. TTB performed “Soul Sweet Song,” a tune written in honor of the band’s co-founder and keyboardist, Kofi Burbridge, who died in 2019. The full band, with Anastasio, Jones, and Nelson, closed the night with two Sly & the Family Stone songs: “Sing a Simple Song” and “I Want to Take You Higher.”
The Tedeschi Trucks Band specialized in a blend of blues, classic rock, jazz, and rhythm and blues jams that was especially popular in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Considering that this music is somewhat out of fashion and that the band has never enjoyed a hit song, the Garden Party at Madison Square Garden was a successful anomaly to current trends in the touring talent industry. The rich mix of vocals, guitars, keyboards, horns, and rhythm section proved that good music is timeless, and that classic rock fans will support arena shows of this nature. Nevertheless, the Garden Party will not replace the band’s traditional theater residency in New York City; the Tedeschi Trucks Band will return to the Beacon Theater in 2024 for three shows, February 29 to March 2.
Playing with My Emotions
Ain’t That Something
Part of Me (with a snippet of “I Can Feel You Smiling”)
Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker) (The Rolling Stones cover)
I Am the Moon
Have a Little Faith in Me (John Hiatt cover, with Norah Jones)
You Wreck Me (Tom Petty cover, with Norah Jones)
Midnight in Harlem
Made Up Mind
I Want More
Beck’s Bolero (Jeff Beck Group cover, with a snippet of Jeff Beck’s “Freeway Jam”)