Rodriguez / Wooden Wand with David Lowrey
Where: The Thekla // When: 08/12/2009
by Stan Lockey
I was totally unprepared for main artist Rodriguez. I had listened to ‘Cold Fact’ years ago and whilst enjoying at the time, the album had never found its way into my collection. An almost empty Thekla filled to near capacity with minutes to go, an expectant buzz about the place that something remarkable was about to happen, and an overwhelming feeling of togetherness was building. Rodriguez arrived on stage to the loudest reception I have witnessed in The Thekla. Unable to get onto stage unaided, the band positioned him in place centre stage and then had to wait for the cheers to subside before starting. Launching into the first number, I was instantly impressed. Rodriguez plays with a rough Mexican styli, finger raking and string slapping at phenomenal speed which when coupled with the four piece band produced an entirely new sound (albeit from 1969) that does not come across on the clean recorded version.
The songs, often political, mainly advice on life based, were wonderfully crafted with some of the best placed keys I have heard, in particular tracks where an old Hammond was employed. Most impressive was the performance of the band. It was evident that they were the band for this three date tour and had not played with Rodriguez to any extent. Constantly on the watch for changes and not always spot on, some of the tracks descended into a lengthy jam whilst working through a link or finding an ending, and evident on all was the sheer pleasure they had from playing with him.
The set was pretty much all of the two albums ‘Cold Fact’ and ‘Coming From Reality’ with the crowd favourite being ‘Sugar Man’ and mine being ‘I Wonder’. Ending with ‘I Think of You’, the noise of the audience was tumultuous and Rodriguez returned to play a lengthy cover of ‘Hound Dog’. I left feeling that I had witnessed a Legend and determined to add two albums to my collection.