Thanks to Joan Hunt and Jackie:
Concert Review: Ten
New York City - Mar. 15, 2006
Nearly 40 years after, I finally got my chance
to see Ten Years After. Now, I know there are many
Alvin Lee purists out there, but I'm not
necessarily one although I certainly appreciate
and enjoy his work with the band. He made the
decision to not be a part of the band and new lead
singer/guitarist Joe Gooch is on tour with them.
Me? I just like a good show, good music, and a
good performance. Did I get them? You'll have to
read on. I have to tell the whole story of the
was Wednesday evening, the Ides of March, that I
hit the New Jersey Transit train for B.B. King's
Blues Club located in the Times Square area of
Manhattan. Ah, an adventure indeed, eh? I had my
CD player with the studio album Ten Years After
Now (recently reviewed
by Blogcritics Larry Sakin) playing at high
volume to drown out the loud woman on a cell phone
seated behind me. I agree pretty much with Larry's
review — technically great songs, but they need
more soul or excitement behind them. So, I was
hoping the live performance would provide just
that "oomph" to the new songs.
Once I got to B.B. King's, there was an opening
act for Ten Years After well worth a mention. The
Lizards, a NYC based blues-rock, at times even
a bit funk, band opened the show. They're loud.
Very loud, at least in the acoustics of the rather
small (perhaps seating 600 in cabaret style)
atmosphere of the club. Hard-rockin' blues, a
fantastic drummer (Bobby Rondinelli), chilling
vocals — they got the house in the mood, for
sure. One quote I found from a band member seems
very fitting to their sound: "There's a sweet
spot where James Brown meets Black Sabbath; we
want to be there." If you get a chance to see
this band perform live, go for it.
Then it was time for Ten Years After in its new
incarnation. There were two obvious contingents in
the crowd — those who mistakenly believed they'd
be seeing the original lineup with Alvin Lee and
the Gooch fans hollering "GOOCH, GOOCH!"
As I perused the crowd, I couldn't help but notice
many British accents and older rocker-type folks
... even older than I am. Y'see, I was old enough
to want to go to Woodstock, but too young for my
mother to allow me to go. Although I saw many of
the big groups and solo artists of that era live
in various concerts, I've never seen Ten Years
After live. I have some of their original albums
on vinyl if that counts! So, this was my chance
nearly forty years down the road — a scary
thought all of its own, but I won't go there now.
It's time for the show.
Lyons' excitement and joy while playing is
contagious. He's put on the years, for sure, but
his energy level hasn't faded at all over the
decades. Although technically Joe Gooch is the new
front man for the band, I feel it's bass guitarist
Lyons leading them in many aspects. His fingers
literally flew over the bass strings without any
effort at all as if the music came from deep
inside him. I sat at a table near his end of the
stage and I'm glad I did. His own personal
performance was tremendous, full of vitality and
taking the crowd into his own special love of
Original band members Ric Lee on drums and
Chick Churchill on keyboards were a bit less
noticeable from my point of view. Whether they
shared Leo's sense of excitement, I couldn't tell.
Their performances were fine, but I don't know if
they were quite as really into it as Leo was.
Then there's Joe Gooch, the New Kid on the
Block. Slim, rockin', new age, spiky-haired (with
product), sunglasses-wearin', guitar-playin' Joe
Gooch. I personally think he looks like CBS 2
(Manhattan) tech geek Brett
Larsen (not a bad thing). The man seated next
to me thought Ryan Seacrest. No! No! He's much too
tall for that! But, can he rock? Can he roll? Can
he fill Alvin Lee's big shoes? Hmmm ... good
question. I think he'll eventually build shoes of
his own with the band if they keep on working. In
a way, he's a bit incongruous on a visual level
with them due to the age difference — he's only
28 years old. On a talent level, he puts on a
I was keeping notes of the set list in the
dimly lighted club, but found that a few of them I
wrote atop of others thus making them illegible.
Oops. Due to that, I can't give you the exact song
listings. They played a bunch of old original TYA
songs, as well as most of the new material from
the Ten Years After Now CD. Although I
loved hearing some of their older hits during the
show, it was some of their newer songs that got
the crowd (and me) rocking and bopping our heads.
"King of the Blues" was the first song
of the new generation to really impact the crowd.
Excellent! It pulled the crowd in and got us in
the mood to hear ,not just the old, but the new.
Songs I liked from the new CD came to life in the
live performance, as well as a new song not on the
CD - "Big Black 45."
I personally think that a lot of this band's
strength is in the live performances, not
necessarily in studio album work. While watching
them, the excitement is there, the technically
expert musical skills are there, and it all comes
together for a worthy crowd experience. The soul
behind the music shines. I know there is a live
performance album — Roadworks — not yet
released in the United States, available as a
limited import. Based on the show at B.B. King's
this past Wednesday, I'm interested in buying it.
Of course, hits such as "Good Morning, Little
Schoolgirl" and "I'd Love to Change the
World" brought the house down, but the new
songs performed live have that same sort of spark;
igniting the crowds.
The band played a good couple of hours and came
back for two encores. Just when you thought "Goin'
Home" would close the show, it didn't. They
kept on rocking with an extended "Choo Choo
Mama." For a blues-rock fan, it's a concert
I'd certainly recommend more so than the new CD
itself. For a gangsta-rap fan, not so much. Joe
Gooch isn't Alvin Lee and, with the new songs, I
don't think he's trying to be anything but Joe
Gooch. Together with Leo Lyons, Chick Churchill,
and Ric Lee, the new incarnation of Ten Years
After can raise the roof in a live show. That's
all that matters to me.