Friday, January 2, 2009

Surprise Me Mr. Davis & The Benevento Russo Duo: B.B. King's New Year's Eve 2008

After the My Morning Jacket show I strolled over to Times Square to catch Surprise Me Mr. Davis & The Benevento Russo Duo's late night show. The marquee read "The Slip & The Duo" so I was unsure who would actually be playing. I thought maybe that Nathan Moore (lead vocals, guitar) had gotten sick and perhaps it would be The Slip performing. I also thought that perhaps B.B.King's just had the wrong info to begin with. Either way I was absolutely pumped to see both bands for the first time. The show began at 2am with The Duo taking the stage first. They opened with "Echo Park" and instead of playing a full set, they immeditately left the stage while SMMD rushed on and delivered a high octane version of "Everything Must Go".
It turns out that Nathan would be playing, and he was in fine form as always. To my surprise, Davis rushed off the stage and The Duo ran back on to play another track. This may have been the plan for the rest of the night, but sooner than later different incarnations of both bands were taking form. First Brad and Marc stayed on and played with the Duo. Then Marco would stay and play keys on a Davis track. Next thing I knew every member of both band's were playing on stage. The 6 headed monster which now resembled the Grateful Dead with two guitarists, keyboards, two drummers, bass, and keys remained on stage for the rest of the rest of the night. "Sissyfuss" was the first tune to feature everyone at once and it was nice to hear a version featuring the fancy keywork of Marco Benevento. Unlike other SMMD shows, this one featured lots of jamming, more akin to the work of The Slip & The Duo. Brad really stood out as the superstar of the night. His guitar playing was inventive and his singing was on for the entirety of the night. "I Hate Love" was a standout of the night. The crowd got to sing a long and Brad even teased some of "Eube" in the intro guitar licks. Both bands left the stage at 4:30am but nobody wanted to believe the show was over. After what felt like forever (really 10minutes later) the 6 musicians piled back on stage for a lengthly encore. A big jam session was held that featured a new Marco/Marc composition that segued into an old often played The Slip cover but first time for Davis & The Duo, "Stand By Me". The show ended at 5:15am with Nathan and Brad singing "What A Wonderful World". It was cut short by Nathan who proudly claimed he was way to drunk to keep going. The concert was epic to say the least and totally outshown My Morning Jacket.
Both of these groups have paid their dues over the years, and hopefully 2009 will be a stand out year for Surprise Me Mr. Davis. Although it would be bittersweet to see them playing venues such as Madison Square Garden, no band deserves it more.

Here's SMMD & The Duo playing I Hate Love, Stand By Me and a jam (all of which I shot from front row center!):

Set List:
Disc 1
Set I
1. Echo Park >
2. Everything Must Go >
3. Play Pause Stop >
4. When A Woman >
5. Becky
6. Sissyfuss
7. Best Reason To Buy The Sun
8. Sunny's Song
9. I Want To Get To Heaven Before I Die
10. beluga banter
11. Roses & Bottles

Disc 2
Set I (continued)
1. The Real World
2. jam > Something For Rockets
3. Circus Cats
4. Smells Like Teen Spirit >
5. I Hate Love
6. Summer of My Fall >
7. Poor Boy
8. Big Whopper >
9. Fat King Of Gods
10. 19th Nervous Breakdown
11. encore break

Disc 3
Encore 1:
1. Last One Ever
Encore 2:
2. (cuts in) new Marc & Marco Tune >
3. Stand By Me >
4. super bad jam >
5. jam >
6. Money Money Money
7. What A Wonderful World

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