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Music DVD Review: Taylor Hicks – Whomp at the Warfield

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For reasons unexplained, when Taylor Hicks finally released his long-delayed concert DVD Whomp at the Warfield there was very little promotion on his part. Hicks had long promised that his 2007 concert at San Francisco’s Warfield Theatre would eventually be released, talking about it frequently in interviews. In early 2010, Image Entertainment released the disc, enhanced for 16×9 TVs and sporting a muscular Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. After that Hicks seemed content to never bring it up again. As a result, Whomp at the Warfield inevitably vanished quickly into obscurity. That’s a shame because the 84 minute concert stands as possibly the best document of Hicks’ extraordinary talent currently available.

Now that Hicks has retired his Teen Angel pompadour, completing at long last his national tour with Grease, he has returned to what he does best: fronting a skilled touring band. The timing couldn’t be better to check out what he’s capable of onstage. Back in 2007, Hicks was riding high following a number one single and an RIAA-certified platinum album. The Warfield show captured an electrifying eight-piece band tearing through a set list that included Hicks’ originals as well as covers – sometimes woven together in the same performance. It’s a tour through the varied influences that shaped Hicks’ style, including rock, R&B, funk, and classic soul.

Throughout the show, Hicks proves himself a very generous bandleader. Everyone gets a chance to shine, especially the intensely grooving rhythm section of Felix Pollard (drums) and Al Carty (bass). Numerous impressive solos are contributed by saxophonist Brian Gallagher and guitarist Josh Smith. The Taylor Hicks concert experience is a showcase for expert musicianship, with many songs taking off in unexpected directions. Van Morrison’s “Naked In the Jungle” gives way to Sly and the Family Stone’s “Dance To the Music.” Hicks’ own “Heart and Soul” blends with a couple verses from Chuck Berry’s “Brown Eyed Handsome Man.” The band follows Hicks wherever he decides to take them.

The harmonica that became Hicks’ calling card early in his career makes several appearances, never outstaying its welcome. He also demonstrates solid rhythm guitar skills. Soaring above it all are the impassioned vocals that earned Hicks his stardom. Pouring energy and conviction into every song, he consistently manages to legitimize the comparisons to more seasoned artists that have been made since he first rose to prominence. The temptation to devolve into fanboyish overstatement is ever-present when appraising an artist who I believe has received undue criticism. Hicks really doesn’t fit into any easily marketable niche. His studio work comes across sometimes as stiff and overly mannered. But onstage he becomes electric; every move he makes is an extension of his musicality.

Whomp at the Warfield, especially during its deliriously unhinged highlights, underlines the innate showmanship that has kept Hicks’ career moving forward. On Bryan Adams’ “The Right Place,” a standout track on his self-titled debut album, Hicks seems possessed as he works the band into a frenzy. The other musicians deliver what he demands of them, the smiles (and sweat) on their faces conveying how happy they are to oblige. Finger-picking an acoustic accompaniment to his original ballad “The Fall,” Hicks focuses his intensity while seated on a stool, hardly moving as he commands the audiences’ attention. This is an artist with something to prove. Having toiled for years as an unknown bar room performer, he isn’t about to let his moment pass without packing all that experience into each performance.

A substantial half-hour interview with Taylor Hicks turns up as a bonus feature. A variety of topics are explored, justifiably focused on Hicks’ artistic vision. The Warfield show is talked about in detail, as well as the entire 2007 tour. A real treat is the inclusion of a pair of solo acoustic performances. Both songs are early Hicks originals: “Son of a Carpenter” and “In Your Time.” These tunes can be heard on the compilation of independent work Hicks released as Early Works, recorded with the backing of a full band.

Due to a non-existent promotional campaign, even dedicated fans can hardly be blamed for not being aware of this release. For anyone who only knows Hicks as a contestant on a televised singing competition, this DVD will likely be an eye-opening experience. Whomp at the Warfield documents a high point in Taylor Hicks’ career, making for a perfect introduction for those unfamiliar with his work.

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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."
  • juliegr

    Great blog review. You covered so many excellent points: the harmonica, the voice, the energy, the tight hand-picked band, the music itself, Taylor’s ability to take a song to a high point then climb even higher at the conclusion and the BEAUTY of The Right Place.

    I, too, wish more publicity had been given to this fantastic live performance DVD put if more reviews like your’s are printed, people will turn to discover what Taylor is all about.

    Thanks for the great review.

  • caroleinfl

    Thanks for saying what I have been feeling. Whomp At The Warfield is a fantistic show.
    I have the dvd. I wish every fan would get this wonderful treasure.

  • dnjmorton aka judy

    What a wonderful review of Whomp at the Warfield. You captured the essence of Taylor – the music that is in his soul. I hope everyone can see Taylor LIVE on his current tour. You will be begging for MORE from this very talented young man.

  • IGotTheMusicInMe

    Everything you say about this DVD is true. It’s a standout among performance videos. The sound is exceptional. The set list extraordinarily exciting and interesting. The musicianship and vocals of Hicks – outstanding. He’s the real deal.

  • KimLoree

    If you agree with this review…please share it with a friend. Everyone should get a chance to see Taylor Hicks in action. He just gets lost in the music and takes you with him.

  • Sarah

    To see Whomp at the Warfield is to get a glimpse as to the true Taylor and his live performances.
    He puts his “all” into every show.
    He never disappoints!! Too bad Idol never promoted him the way they promoted some of the less talented contestants they had on…just because Taylor knows the “ropes” of the business and wouldn’t let Idol control him and his music. Taylor will still be around performing even when the Idol show is long forgotten.

  • Gr8fulheart

    WHOA ~ do you ever ‘Get Him’! You have captured the full picture of Taylor Hicks right here & now. It is satisfying to see people opening their eyes to who this artist is & what he delivers through ‘His’ music.
    ‘Whomp At The Warfield’ is pure magic. Lets hope that others will get their hands on this masterpiece & share it with others.
    Thanx so much, for this honest & accurate review. I am grateful?

  • Daphne Lee

    Chad, the controversial writer to a fault? i wonder why he want to start of his article with negativity? is it his ploy to grab attention?

    well, it only got me to resent..helluva lot!

    Soul Patrollette, always & forever
    for HANDSOME MR TAYLOR HICKS, Daphne

  • Daphne Lee

    From Grease, ‘he has returned to what he does best: fronting a skilled touring band.

    & Whomp At the Warfield ‘Live’ stands as ‘best document of Hicks’ extraordinary talent

    – TAYLOR, from across the miles here in Singapore, i know you are by far the best Winner of the show, and you are the American Idol who immediately got a biography written, got invited to star in broadway show/s and the only Winner to have travelled ‘The Distance’ to guest star in the only one Asian Idol that attempted to bring the world closer, and you will always be The One!

    So many spin-offs to like Ray Charles, all the Taylors and Taylor-parts written all over into t.v. serials..

    TAYLOR HICKS has made so much impact, it is more than anyone could have imagine…

    last but not least, even the tiniest tod in the most remote place on earth is going…

    Whoooooo hooooo a la TAYLOR HICKS

    Ur e Best!
    HICKS’s chick, Soul Patroller, Daphne
    @Singapore

  • Ann

    Wonderful read. Finally some one else is feeling and seeing what a lot of us see in Mr. Hicks complete talent. I’ve been to a few of his concerts and have his Warfield DVD and a few music CDs. They are really some hard working musicians. It is so nice to read something positive for a change. Thank you, kindest wishes to you and yours, Ann

  • GEEG

    WOW….THIS IS A FANTASTIC DVD. THANKS FOR THE RECOMMENDATION

  • san_tthc

    Thanks for giving Taylor Hicks and Whomp at the Warfield their due and for verbalizing so well the essence of Taylor and his music. Some of us have known all along the magic that he creates when he takes the stage. It makes you go again and again to see Mr. Hicks. You “get” what he is all about–the MUSIC!

  • Flower

    Thanks Chad for the best and most spot on review of Taylor and his music. While the DVD is great, nothing compares with seeing Taylor live on stage. He is doing what he was born to do — entertaining and bringing joy to his audience, his musicians…and himself. Taylor on stage is MAGIC and all about the MUSIC!

  • Marian

    Fantastic review, honest and true. Taylor’s talents are captured in your review perfectly!

  • Kathleen

    Thank you so much – FINALLY someone realizes the true talent of Taylor Hicks! He is the unsung hero of American Idol winners. Hicks is the most unique winner, and the most original. Sure Kelly Clarkson has a great voice, Ruben Studdard is good but where is he now, Fantasia was fantastic and also deserves more recognition, Carrie Underwood is the most over-rated winner with her typical country-girl twang, Jordin Sparks is OK but nothing special, David Cook is good – I’ve seen him in concert, and he really rocks but is typical, Kris Allen is also very good but is overshadowed by the preening and over-rated Adam Lambert, and I didn’t watch this season cuz Paula was gone and I wasn’t impressed with the top 12 at all.

    No AI winner holds a candle to Taylor Hicks and I’m glad he is finally getting the recognition he deserves. Even Simon Cowell finally came around and gave Hicks a standing ovation in ’09 when he was promoting “The Distance”. Cowell is now one of his biggest fans.

  • Terry

    Saw him at the House of Blues in Myrtle Beach, SC……awesome showmanship!