ACL Reviews, Photos: Daniel Lanois’ Black Dub, Saturday,
Daniel Lanois, best known as a masterful producer for the likes of Bob Dylan, U2 and Neil Young, brought the dark, moody sounds of his latest project, Black Dub, to the light of day in Zilker Park. The modest, intermittent rain seemed the ideal ambiance to accompany the brooding, bottom-heavy rumble that was the signature of last year’s eponymous debut. Although they certainly owe a debt to the dub reggae that inspired their name, this is more of a roots rock/Americana trio with funk and soul overtones. Propelled with grace, finesse and a sublime sense of time is jazz drummer extraordinary Brian Blade who’s worked with everyone from Wayne Shorter to Bill Frisell. A New Orleans native, Blade can get plenty funky but with a flair that’s uncanny. And when the band needs a good kick in the ass, he’s there to give it. His rhythm-mate on the album was Rolling Stones/Neville Bros. bassist Daryl Johnson but on this day the more than capable Jim Wilson locked the bottom end down tight. Lanois’s guitar work adds the melodies in as much as the songs are there is give shape to the soundscapes. A couple of lengthy musical interludes with just Blade and Lanois, one with guitar and the other with pedal steel, were beautifully atmospheric but not particularly well-suited for festival fare as any subtlety gets lost in the crowd, so to speak. Trixie Whitley, daughter of the late Chris Whitley, really provides the juice with a raw, visceral voice that could peel the paint off the wall. She adds a soulful, bluesy quality that is served well by the music’s dark tones as displayed on Last Time, a tune from the album. Lanois delved into his solo catalogue with a nice reading of The Messenger from his 1993 release, For The Beauty of Wynona. The set ended with a dense, rocking rendition of Tenor Saw’s mid-80s reggae dancehall hit, Ring The Alarm, which had Lanois up on the drum riser going tete-a-tete with Blade. Besides a refrain, their version bore little resemblance to the original but by then the rain had stopped, the sky had lightened a bit and the strains of Black Dub was drifting off into the ether.
- Jay Trachtenberg