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Little Feat Concert Review

January 4, 2010

by Rick Stevens
About the author, Rick Stevens

Little Feat at the Keswick Theater – January 2, 2010

It helps having a friend in the “music” business in copping some seats for the 40th Anniversary Tour that passed through Glenside, PA last night. A tip ‘o the hat to my life long friend and bassist Rick Bauder for rustling up some excellent 8th row center seats. Rick’s company, Bauder Audio specializes in back line gear rental and sound reinforcement and his company provided the house PA for the performance.

The Feat played for close to 1100 folks (almost a sell-out) for well over 2 hours. With Little Feat there is rarely an opening act. Why bother when you have 40 years worth of superb material to choose from.

There have been some changes to the line up. Female vocalist Shaun Murphy left the band in early 2009 after being on the road for close to 16 years and venerable drummer Richie Hayward has had to take a leave of absence since August 2009 because of liver cancer. Gabe Paul, Richie’s drum tech for the past 2 1/2 years, filled in admirably. Gabe’s uncle is none other than the awesome blues guitarist, Robben Ford with whom Gabe toured with recently.

Little Feat is a touring band. They survive strictly from being on the road playing well over 200 plus dates a year to make a living. Their last major selling album was 1988′s Let It Roll. They haven’t stopped recording. It’s just that with airplay being what it is and nobody actually buying records anymore, they need to exist on the road. There was a major push for a “donate to the Richie Hayward” medical expenses raffle as he needs a liver transplant to have a chance at surviving his illness. Richie lives with his wife in Canada, but because he’s an American citizen he can not benefit from the free health care system that Canada provides. It’s obvious that Little Feat as a company doesn’t provide health insurance for their members either. Age can be cruel sometimes.

The performance was an above par reading of some newer offerings sprinkled in with the timeless material that goes back to the days of Lowell George. Fat Man In the Bathtub, Roll Um Easy, Willin’, and Let It Roll were all put forth. A couple of classics from The Band such as Long Black Vail and Rag Momma Rag were thrown into the mix along with a Richie Tribute known as the Jamaican National Anthem, “Don’t Bogart That Joint” that acted as a sing-a-long. Front man and guitarist Paul Barrere handled most of the vocals with guitarist/mandolin/trumpet player Fred Tackett chiming in with harmonies along with pianist Bill Payne. Even ageless percussionist Sam Clayton added the obligatory growls from behind his congas. Bassist Kenny Gradney has made a concession to age by playing a much lighter Parker Bass rather than his standard Fender Precision.

Rather than spending time on getting to as much material as possible, Little Feat choose to extend the songs they played by allowing all the members to stretch and expand the original song with some serious jamming. It meant that favorites such as Oh Atlanta and Rock and Roll Doctor were cut from the set list. I don’t think anyone would second guess the member’s ability to play so it was a little disappointing to listen to extended riffing instead of staying the course. I have to remind myself that this isn’t 1973 and the Irvine Auditorium where Bonnie Raitt
opened for Little Feat and the Feat played for close to 3 1/2 hours well into the night. But we were all a lot younger then and could stay up later.

Little Feat at the Keswick Theater, Glenside, PA

Little Feat at the Keswick Theater, Glenside, PA

Little Feat On Stage

Little Feat On Stage

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