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Concert Review: Taylor Hicks Live at 7 Cedars Casino, Sequim, Washington, 09/25/2010

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Taylor Hicks, backed by a six piece band, played to an enthusiastic crowd September 25th at the 7 Cedars Casino in Sequim, Washington. He commanded the audience’s attention for the roughly ninety minute performance, delivering a mixture of original tunes and covers. Soaked in sweat by the end, Hicks earned every bit of applause as he invested his customary passion in each song. He played rhythm guitar on most numbers, breaking out his trademark harmonica at several key points.

Performing nearly half of his most recent album, The Distance clearly dominated the show. Having honed these tunes on the road over the course of many performances, they all sounded even better than their already impressive studio versions. “What’s Right Is Right,” a hit on the Adult Contemporary chart last year, especially seemed to take on new life with a bravura vocal performance. “Nineteen,” preceded by an emotional tribute to the men and women serving in the United States Armed Forces, traded some of its country-and-western flavor for a more traditional R&B sound.

One of the quietest moments of the night was a sterling rendition of the very best track on The Distance: “Maybe You Should,” written by Hicks with Mike Reid. The song featured the simplest arrangement of the concert, allowing the audience to focus on the nuances of Hicks’ expressive vocal. Dipping back to original songs from his Early Works compilation, “The Deal” and “Hold Onto Your Love” both turned up, with the latter being one of the more jaw-dropping performances. Augmented by some stunning saxophone solos, the song transformed from its familiar Latin groove into a blues stomper.

A hallmark of Hicks’ approach is the inspired way he weaves pieces of other songs into the one being performed. The slow-burn groove of “Seven Mile Breakdown,” a blues-rock highlight on The Distance, morphed unexpectedly – but seamlessly – into The Beatles’ “Get Back.” It then took a left-turn into Jackson Browne’s “Running On Empty” before returning to where it began. Similarly, Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away,” introduced drolly as “a song I did on that show,” segued into “The Runaround,” from 2006’s Taylor Hicks.

Among the covers was Delbert McClinton’s “Going Back To Louisiana,” prior to which Hicks’ cited McClinton as a mentor. Derek & the Dominoes’ “Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad” sparked instrumental fireworks amongst the band members. The cover tunes were all well chosen, playing to Hicks’ strengths as a singer.

Although Hicks’ powerhouse vocals are easily enough to sustain an entire concert, his band shines equally bright. Longtime associate Brian Less demonstrated his mastery of the keyboard more than once, gracing several numbers with extended solos. Wynn Christian, playing lead guitar, has a long history of working with Hicks. Christian wrote “Seven Mile Breakdown,” originally recording it with his own band Spoonful James. Christian contributed some blistering leads throughout the night, most notably on “I Live On a Battlefield.”

Saxophonist Jeff Lopez brought a small arsenal of horns. He switched between tenor, alto, and sopranino saxes as well as flute. The sopranino was a particular treat considering that it’s a seldom utilized, and very difficult to play, member of the saxophone family. At one point Lopez played his alto and sopranino simultaneously. Filling out the band was the very skilled rhythm section of Brandon Peeples on bass, Leif Bondarenko on drums, and percussionist Matt Kimbrell.

Immediately following the final tune (a cover of La Roux’s current hit “Bulletproof”), Hicks was out at the merchandise table greeting fans, posing for pictures, and signing autographs. This is a regular occurrence, no matter how understandably exhausted he may be after the show. It seemed nearly everyone in attendance queued up, waiting patiently as Hicks bonded with the fans one by one. Making that personal connection with his fans is obviously very vital to him.

Having interviewed him the day before, I really gained insight into the seriousness with which Taylor Hicks approaches his craft. I was fortunate enough to continue this discussion after the show, as Hicks invited my wife and I to spend some time backstage. What becomes clear from speaking with him, especially face to face, is the clarity of his vision of himself as an independent artist. “I’ve had a plan for my career arc right from the beginning,” Hicks explained, “which surprised a lot of people.” He’s well aware that some are quick to dismiss his success on American Idol as some kind of accident. But instead of worrying about those critiques, he’d rather expand his audience by demonstating his capabilities. Says Hicks, “It’s all about the music.”

It certainly was all about the music at the 7 Cedars Casino. The audience witnessed a thorough demonstration of said capabilities, with more sure to follow.  For additional information about Taylor Hicks and his upcoming appearances, see his official website.

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About The Other Chad

Hi, I'm Chaz Lipp. An old co-worker of mine thought my name was Chad. Since we had two Chads working there at the time, I was "The Other Chad."
  • cath

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion as to who impresses them musically and what kind of music appeals to them. I don’t feel the need to question “opinions”. It is such a delight , when someone “gets Taylor as I get Taylor”. He is so simple he is complicated: his simple desire to please himself makes for a complicated existence in the music business. He does it his way because he believes in himself. AND SO DO I.
    Am so glad you enjoyed his performance and that of his stellar bandmates.

  • Tish

    Now I’m dying because I couldn’t make this concert. Great review, I felt like I was there…almost. :-)

  • IGotTheMusicInMe

    You have a clear vision of great performance ability and an “ear” for artistic talent, Chaz/Charles/Chad/OtherChad. Thank you for sharing your experience!

  • Maryqtpi

    Taylor is awesome live! You dont know how really really good he is till you witness his live performances. High energy and an all around great guy! Totally get him and looking forward to seeing him again and again. BRING IT! Why such a treasure is still not shining brightly is beyond me. I am enjoying his intimate concerts though!

  • Dwayne

    The most talented Idol ever. You cannot appreciate his ability until you see him perform in person.

  • anne

    I love music and I love live concerts and nobody in music today does either better than Taylor Hicks!

  • medolark

    I was there, fortunately, and this is an honest review of the show. It was the best I’ve seen so far. Hopefully, Taylor and his band will return to the NW more often. The audience certainly got into the concert. It was truly an amazing experience. The enery and connection is always evident between Taylor and his band mates but there was a special vibe between he and Wynn. Ü

  • WillingAndAble

    I hope to see him in concert someday! Nice review sounded like a good time.

  • Runaround

    Amen and halleluiah! It really is “all about the music.” To understand that is to “get” Taylor Hicks. The only live performer I have EVER wanted to see a second time.

  • Judy Morton

    Fabulous and RIGHT ON review!! My husband and I were there and cannot stop talking about the show. High energy by Taylor and the band–Stunning! Trying to figure out when and where we can see Taylor again. Taylor ALWAYS leaves you wanting MORE!

  • Yondera

    This review makes me want to see him perform. I thought he seemed like a good performer when I saw him on american idol and other shows.

  • TTR42

    He is a joy and a gentleman. After Grease he was so nice when my family got a picture with him and autographed CDs. I hope he comes to town again soon.

  • mmd4th

    A simply great review about a simply great artist. It is fantastic to read such glowing critiques of Taylor’s performance. He is outstanding along with his bandmates. Hope he will be performing in the South soon again!

  • Mark

    always felt this guy got a bad rap for no reason. Good to know he’s still out there playing.

  • juliegr

    Not only is Taylor Hicks still out there performing — he’s setting the concert stage on fire with his new versions of songs we’ve heard by current and popular musicians. Taylor’s renditions of “Stay with Me” (Rod Stewart), “Bullet Proof” (LaReux), and “Back to Louisiana” (Delbert McClinton) are amazing and keep the listener wanting to hear more.

    Thanks for a fantastic duo of interviews.