LIVE: The Levin Brothers @ The Strand Theatre, Hudson, 06/17/2021
HUDSON FALLS — Last Thursday, I had the extreme pleasure of catching the Levin Brothers live at the wonderfully intimate Strand Theatre in Hudson Falls, NY. It is such a humbling experience to be on both sides of the stage, so to speak, as the arts world begins to return to normal.
There was almost a sense of poeticism in the air for me when I realized the last concert that I attended at the Strand pre-COVID was the Levin Brothers in December 2019, and now I had the chance to see them again at the same venue as restrictions began to lift. As Pete Levin made his introductions, the band started the night off with a slow crescendo into madness with their tune, “Abraham.” Written by Pete, it served well to demonstrate what a great night of music would be in store for us in the audience. Moving through a set of mainly instrumentals, it was great to hear the band perform songs which were often written only weeks prior to this performance.
The banter amongst the brothers, Pete and Tony, was also quite enjoyable. As they discussed, they are currently on their “Vaccinating Rhythm Tour,” which incidentally was built largely around the fact they wanted to return to this wonderful local theatre. My mind boggled as I processed some of my musical idols discussing wanting to play a local venue that I hold near and dear to my heart. The band, specializing in jazz music with a healthy dose of progressive rock sensibilities – after all, Tony Levin has played with several progressive rock greats, such as King Crimson, and Peter Gabriel – never ceased to amaze me with its flawless transitions. From fast to slow tempos, slow to fast and back again, polyrhythms, key changes, dynamic changes; you name it, they had you covered. A pure delight to listen to, it was also fascinating to hear the covers they performed, from Paul Simon’s “Scarborough Fair,” to the Beatles’, “Fixing a Hole,” to Erik Satie’s “Gymnopédie No. 1,” and even a damned Jaco tune! (“Teen Town,” which not only did they play, but they absolutely nailed).
In a sense, Tony Levin covered his own song when the band performed the King Crimson tune, “Elephant Talk.” Catching me quite off guard, it was an extremely interesting take on the song. The artistry that each musician in the band displayed was awe-inspiring. As Pete Levin flowed above and below the overall melody of the night with his keyboard, Tony thundered through the mix with his use of standup electric bass, and bass guitar.
Jeff Ciampa and Jeff Siegel also added wonderfully to the sound with their intertwined guitar and drums, respectively. Throughout the night there were abundantly clear genre influences in this band ranging from jazz, prog, and blues, and they all blended in such a seamless, tasteful way.
Though I might argue this is a concert that might potentially be enjoyed more by musicians dedicated to their craft, the band put on an amazing show that is extremely accessible to tons of people. Put another way, they practically played for two hours straight and I had no idea that much time had passed! On top of that, they exuded such a humble way about them, and were gracious enough to come back out for an unexpected encore at the behest of someone who worked at the theatre. If these folks play in your area, I highly recommend you take the opportunity to see them. You won’t regret it.
“Scarborough Fair” (Paul Simon)
“Laid Back Lee”
“Out of Darkness”
“Fixing a Hole” (The Beatles)
“Don’t Try This at Home”
“Gymnopédie No.1” (Erik Satie)
“Elephant Talk” (King Crimson)
“Ode to America”
“Teen Town” (Jaco Pastorius)
Encore: “Icarus” (Ralph Towner)