LIVE: Tower of Power @ Cohoes Music Hall, 11/10/16

Review by Steven Stock

The Cohoes Music Hall, a lovely little jewel box of a venue, was sold out and packed to the rafters shortly before 9pm last Thursday as Tower of Power filed onstage. New lead singer Marcus Scott briefly marveled at the surroundings before the band launched into “I Like Your Style.”

They sounded downright glorious throughout the subsequent performance: two trumpets, a baritone sax and two tenor saxophones counterpoised by vocals, Hammond B-3, guitar, bass and drums. You’d think a 10-piece line-up in the tiny confines of the Music Hall with its overhanging balcony would pose a challenge to the men at the soundboard, but the mix was perfect, every instrument distinct, and the volume was loud but not overbearing.

After 48 years in the music business Tower of Power has a substantial back catalog, and they hit most of the highlights in a well-paced show that alternated up-tempo funk (the irrepressible “Ain’t Nothin’ Stoppin’ Us Now,” an infectious rendition of “Soul Vaccination” and a lengthy version of “Diggin’ On James Brown”) with soulful ballads (the lovely “Time Will Tell,” an ebullient “This Time It’s Real” and “So Very Hard to Go”).

Lead vocalist Scott has only been with the band since April, and the Memphis native sings like he still has something to prove, at times moving to the top of his range and hitting notes that would elude a dog whistle. The band’s emphasis on ensemble horn charts precludes any lengthy solos, but Stephen “Doc” Kupka on baritone sax and organist Roger Smith both got crowd-pleasing turns in the spotlight on “(To Say the Least) You’re the Most,” while guitarist Jerry Cortez unleashed a psychedelic maelstrom during “Get Yo’ Feet Back on the Ground.”

All in all a great show, and moreover a solid demonstration of the promise of this venue, now managed by the proprietors of the Palace Theatre. Their ability to get a full house with the cheap seats priced at $59 suggests that the local area harbors a sizable cadre of music lovers willing to pay a premium price to see great bands in an intimate venue. More, please!

I Like Your Style
Ain’t Nothin’ Stoppin’ Us Now/You Ought to be Havin’ Fun
Only So Much Oil in the Ground
(To Say the Least) You’re the Most
Get Yo’ Feet Back on the Ground
Time Will Tell
Don’t Change Horses (In the Middle of a Stream)
Soul Vaccination
This Time It’s Real
Diggin’ On James Brown
So Very Hard to Go
What Is Hip?
You’re Still a Young Man

A FEW MINUTES WITH: Emilio Castillo of Tower of Power
LIVE: Tower of Power @ Alive at 5, 7/30/09

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1 Comment
  1. Mike says

    Great show, but the seats are very uncomfortable, as they have a wooden rail that nails you right in the middle of your back! Bring a cushion. Great sound, though, for sure!

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