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G. Love threatened to take James Brown’s title for Hardest Working Man in Show Business away from him recently—at least for the night he was playing Park City.
Go ahead and try to find another musician who can play over two and a half hours to a packed club on a Sunday night, showing just what kind of a triple-threat he can be live. When he wasn’t rapping lyrical on “Unified” or “Dreamin’”, the night’s openers, he was launching into one of several guitar solos. When he wasn’t doing either, he was proving why he had a harmonica securely attached around his neck at all times, eyes closed and blowing like the hip hop bluesman he’s been widely touted as. Still, for all the sweating that was being done onstage—bassist Jim Prescott and drummer Jeff Clemens rounding out the Sauce part of the trio—everything came out just this side of groovy, the standing-room-only audience bouncing and cheering in approval. The energy was there, to be sure, but the single frat-boy attempt to capture that by starting a bit of a mosh session not only came off as forced, but quickly faded not long after it’d began.
The funky groove laid down by Clemens and Prescott was about all the crowd had to go on at times, with G. Love’s (otherwise known as Garrett Dutton) vocals occasionally coming out muffled and like he was storing marbles in his cheeks. No matter. Coming off as a very capable two-thirds of a funk jazz trio, much of the evening was based on their instruments anyway, Prescott in top form on his stand-up bass. And, for what their bandana-ed leader lacked in easily heard songs on occasion, he made up for with his ample guitar playing. Want the blues? He had that down. How about a bit of a country number with a slide guitar? Piece of cake. His guitar aside, it was especially interesting to see G. Love tackle rapping about his partners in crime, which smelled highly like they were being made up on the spot. And it worked. There’s talent for you. Critics who try and explain away G. Love as being “slacker-rap” and comparing him to Beck would be best advised to take that informational nugget and shove it up their collective asses.
It’s the songs the fans had grown to love, though, that’d they’d come out for. While the new ones were good—especially the Bob Marley nod of a tune “Praise Up”—it was the tried-and-true hits like “Shooting Hoops” that had them singing along. One not only gets the feeling that he’s used to all the singing along that takes place during that particular tune (“Yeah, yeah, yeah—I’m playin’ basketbaaaaall!), but that he nearly expects it to happen. What better reason to explain away his knowing smirks and grins all along?
A welcome show, especially since Utah only had a taste of all things Philadelphonic two years back when G. Love & Special Sauce opened for the Long Beach Dub All-Stars, barely scratching the surface of what it can be when there are no time constraints.
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