Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Bob Wilkins of Niagara Falls arrived at the Ulrich City Centre at 2 p.m. to secure a spot in the front row for Rusted Root’s show. Brian Long of Newfane and Ray Goodenough of Buffalo arrived a little more than an hour later and secured spots in the front row, as well.
By 9:07 p.m., their long wait was over: Rusted Root hit the stage with a powerful rendition of “Martyr,” a track from the band’s breakthrough album, “When I Woke.”
Rusted Root’s 2009 performance was excellent, but this year’s performance was simply stellar from the opening to closing note of the set. The band had many things going for it Friday.
The weather was perfect, the crowd was large, and the opening acts were great and did what opening acts are supposed to do — get the crowd warmed up.
From the outset, there was something in the air that made it feel like it was going to be a special night for the band. After the show, Rusted Root guitarist Derek Coulter agreed and told me, “The sound and the energy of the night was in perfect balance.” Coulter missed last year’s Lockport show because of a scheduling conflict. He also told me the band plays “a lot of outdoor festivals and outdoor shows, and this was one of the best we’ve played in a while.”
Coulter wasn’t the only one having a good night. Lead singer/guitarist Michael Glabicki’s guitar work and vocals were spectacular, but it was his guitar playing that really stood out.
Rusted Root is a band I have seen a few times, and Glabicki’s guitar work is great, especially on the songs from the band’s last album, “Stereo Rodeo.” Songs like “Garbage Man” and “Crucible Glow” are Intense, guitar-driven numbers that simply rocked.
The entire set seemed heavier than usual, and it worked. The band seemed well-rested and in sync with each other all night, and the crowd responded enthusiastically. “Food and Creative Love” was played at a dizzying pace, sending the dancing portion of the crowd into a mild frenzy. Nevertheless, the stellar versions of the band’s signature songs made the night special. The version of “Send Me On My Way” was the best I have ever seen, featuring a blistering solo on a conga drum by Rusted Root drummer Preach Freedom. They followed it up with “Lost in a Crowd” and closed the regular set with “Laugh at the Sun.”
The encores, like last year’s show, lasted almost a half an hour. The first encore was a hard-rocking set of three songs from “Stereo Rodeo.” The band sounded like a thundering herd of rhinos on “Driving One,” then slowed it down for the title track to “Stereo Rodeo,” only to kick it back into gear with “Driving Two.”
The next encore, “Rain” featured Erin Zindle on violin. Zindle is the lead vocalist of the Ragbirds, one of the opening bands that everyone I spoke to really enjoyed. The two-hour, seventeen-song show closed with “Ecstasy,” and the crowd was in ecstasy when the band played it.
Overall, this was a phenomenal show — so good that somebody should consider making Rusted Root the annual opener of the series. And the next time they come to town, they should probably get a key to the city.
Based on the size of the crowd and the quality of the performance, whoever thought Rusted Root being booked again to open the series was not a good idea, was wrong.
Contributing reviewer Thom Jennings is an Albion resident. Look for his concert reviews every Sunday during the Molson Canal Concert Series this summer.