The Radiators


New Orleans, LA

Jan 23, 2009

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Show Notes
  • Every Rads anniversary run has its own contours, but few have been as satisfying as last weekend's two night stand at Tipitina's in celebration of the band's 31st year together. It's simply amazing that a rock band can still sound this fresh and inspired 31 years into its existence. The key to that sense of constant discovery is that the band pulls material from more sources than any other rock group in history, ranging across the entire history of New Orleans music from Jelly Roll Morton on out, referencing a variety of blues, country and classic rock source material from their own experience, and dipping into mastermind Ed Volker's catalog of thousands of original songs, some of which he makes up on the spot. In fact Volker came up with a new one two songs into this run, "The Party Ain't Over Till I Say So." You can tell when Ed springs something like this on the band by the look of astonished joy on their faces as they play along on something they've never heard before themselves. "What am I doing here after all these crazy years?" he asked, throwing his hands in the air.
    These shows had an internal pace that made the two nights seem like one long four-set show with a 20 hour break between sets two and three. The instrumental "Monkey Meet" started things out deliberately on Friday night. For the most part Volker and guitarist Dave Malone take turns singing lead over the course of a set. Malone was in top form on the Rads classics "Honey From the Bee" and "Like Dreamers Do" a nifty version of "Last Getaway" and an inspired interpretation of Stevie Wonder's "He's Mistra Know It All." One of the highlights of the set was Volker's spooky reading of his Nostradamus-like evocation of the hard times we now are living in, "New Dark Ages." He wrote it 20 years ago but it sounds like it was written yesterday.
    Dave kicked off set two with a mournful "Morning Dew," then Ed played a little "Soul Limbo" riff going into the extended jamming on the suite-like "Number 2 Pencil." With Michael Skinkus on congas the rhythms were flying high and bassist Reggie Scanlan was right up there in mix alongside Malone and the master of pyrotechnics, guitarist Camile Baudoin. Drummer Frank Bua was kicking it all down the road in one of those moments when he was nothing less than the Charlie Watts of New Orleans drumming, slamming and syncopated. "Give the drummer some" shouts Volker during the Bo Diddley vamp "Hey Gyp" and Bua/Skinkus trip off into the drum zone, revving the crowd to ecstasy. Everybody in the place is shouting "Hey" in the right spots during "Soul On Fire," Dave delivers a killer "Death of the Blues," Ed has an "Ace In the Hole" and then, as he builds a segue instrumental passage, sings in a quavering falsetto: "They call me Mr. Pitiful/That's my name/They call me Mr. Pitiful/It's My Only Claim to Fame." As Dave steps up to the microphone to sing Traffic's "Feelin' Allright" you can sense that the whole crowd is primed to shout out the answer line "Not feeling too good myself." The Radiators version of this song, with its corruscating rhythmic flow and density, turns it into a New Orleans anthem.
    The New Orleans rhythms and arrangement idiosyncrasies allow the Radiators to turn what would be cover songs in the hands of lesser bands into reimaginings. No better example exists than the encore of the Jimi Hendrix classic "If 6 Was 9," played with a stabbing, staccato rhythm that adds a whole new meaning to the line "I've-got-my-own-life-to-live" when Volker spits it out, no suave talking hipster but hurling it on the ground like a warning. But of course Ed is always the poet and it falls upon him to ruminate "If sex turned out to be divine..." a thought that seemed to lure him into "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," done as a hard blues rather than an R&B tune. When he gets to the repeat line Volker attacks, shouting "Heard it!" against the slamming backbeat eight times in a row. The band flies out of this moment into a frenzied coda, with Malone slamming power "Grapevine" chords a la Neil Young. How do you follow this with an encore? By playing The Who's "Magic Bus" with reference to the close harmonies and rhythm patterns of the spinning top of a single version, not the Live At Leeds version.
  • Soundboard > SONY PCM-R500 > DAT (16bit/48kHz/band master)
    Fostex D-10 Pro / DAT(m) / AES/EBU > RME Digi 96/8 Pro / PC / SoundForge 7.0 (record, normalize, fades & trim, resample highest quality settings to 44.1kHz) > CD Wave Editor (tracking) > FLAC 1.7.1
  • recorded by Kenny Samuels
  • mastered by ericv
  • artwork by Scott Kravetz


Setlist at Tipitina's, New Orleans, LA on Jan 23, 2009

Set One

Tuning & Intro 262


Monkey Meet 310


The Party Ain't Over 'Til I Say So 546


Honey Bee 236


If Your Heart Ain't In It 228


Little Sadie 396


He's Mistra Know-It-All 413


Last Getaway 477


The New Dark Ages 389


Everybody Ought To Make A Change 546


You Can't Keep No Secrets From The Holy Ghost 356


Like Dreamers Do 423


set1 outro 24


Set Two

Morning Dew 484


Number Two Pencil 781


Chevrolet 433


Soul On Fire 356


Death Of The Blues 517


Ace In The Hole 312


Feelin' Alright 530


calling them back 64



Love Trouble > I Heard It Through The Grapevine 494


Magic Bus 460


set2 outro 62


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