DB&GS - 7/17/2003
Dickey Betts & Great Southern last night before 4100 at our tiny bluesfest? Well...in a word, they were torrid! This 90-minute electric performance was a huge improv- ment over the show I saw back in 2000. Dan Toler is a much more appropriate foil for Dickey and Frankie Lombardi is a worthy addition on percussion. I still don't think that Betts needs a horn player at all, but whatever.
The set was late starting due to technical difficulties and when the inane local `classic rock radio' dj started to introduce the band, Dickey just walked out, shook his hand and playfully shoved him out of the way. Betts then commented that the bunch of us gathered down at the front of the stage were `the best friends that we have'. Only 6(!) tunes, `High Falls', `FT/Blue Sky', `Come On In My Kitchen', `Liz Reed', `BWIAB', `NOLTRW' and the set-closer `Jessica'.
They were on and the playing was hot, hot and hotter. What a joy to stand five feet from Dickey and to watch one of the great guitarists of the rock generation at work. If he's lost anything, it has to be in the smallest increments known to man. One thing that Betts does (in `LR' and `BWIAB') is bring the piece to a dissonant false stop...and then, beautifully, emerge from the mess with a wonderfully-constructed solo. It is mesmerizing to watch. During `Liz Reed', a song that I came of age with, it was very difficult for me to keep my emotions in check; I almost lost it. Dickey looks terrific, btw and I suddenly remember that I miss this guy a great deal. Am I happy with the current line-up of the ABB? Totally and I wouldn't want that to change. But seeing Dickey once every three years, I've decided, isn't enough. Does he have it in him to make a CD that will re establish Dickey Betts as an artist of consequence?
I'm not from Missouri but `show me'...in the meantime, don't think twice about going to see Great Southern. At this point it is a fantastic live band.
Added: Saturday, July 19, 2003
Reviewer: Daryl Mann