June 14, 2004
WORDS: DAVE CHAMPION
PICTURES: FREDRIK PIHL
This was clearly the most anticipated gig of the spring here in Stockholm. After hearing embryonic versions of the songs which later emerged on The Solution's "Communicate!" platter, I knew that I could not miss this as it promised to be a jaw-dropping event. And, boys and girls, it truly was.
I should say a few words about the venue. Nalen is an old jazz hall from the 50s and 60s and it retains that large ballroom atmosphere with gold statuettes and that high ceiling and large stage. Considering that 14 people had to fit on the stage this was a good thing.
I arrived at the venue and it was jam-packed with people sitting on the floor watching the soccer game on the large screen set up for this purpose. Yeah, sure Swedes love their rock 'n' roll, but they love their football too and I'm sure there would have been a riot had the band started their performance BEFORE the game ended. For the record, Sweden won.
Right, enough waffling, on to the show. The lights went dark and bassist James J. Heneghan walked on stage and began plucking away on his Fender Precision bass. He was then joined on stage by drummer/mastermind Nicke Andersson who had done away with his trademark baseball cap for a fedora and shirt and tie for the evening. He sat on the skins and began laying down the law. I could see where this was leading to as guitarist Mattias "Memphis" Hellberg walked on, strapped on his Telecaster and started playing along.
These gentlemen provided the soundtrack as pianists Micke and the (Duke of) Honk walked over to their respective instruments and began tinkling. Okay, for those keeping count we're now up to five musicians onstage. Add Jesper on tambourine and backup singers, the I-4's and you're up to 10. In quick succession horn players Gustav, Magic and Goran assumed their places next to the I-4s and finally the man himself, Michigan's king of blue eyed soul, Mister Scott Morgan, emerged looking quite dashing in a wool suit, necktie and bowler hat. The shades were a great touch too.
The entire ensemble then kicked in to "Communicate!"'s opening track "Get on Back" and we were off into the wild. This was followed by "I Have To Quit You" and "My Mojo Ain't Working No More", the first two singles and videos off the record.
During the first cover song, "Monkey Time", guitar tech Chuck Pounder walked on stage and handed Scott his beloved 1967 Telecaster and the guy showed us all how great he is on guitar. Sadly, as most of you know this is the same guitar that disappeared on the subway a few days later.
It was Scott's late father's birthday and he dedicated "Top of the Stairs" to him. A class act from a class guy.
After "Funky Fever", the I-4s left the stage as the band played "She Messed Up My Mind" and "Widow Wemberly" (great harmonica work by Scott). After the return of the I-4s, the band began Johnny Taylor's "Hijackin' Love" (also done by Sonic's Rendezvous Band and just about every other band Scott has been in) culminating in a brilliant guitar duel between Mattias and Scott.
Scott then introduced Hellacopters guitarist, Robert "Strings" Dahlquist, who had played lead on the LP's "Soul Mover" and the band then kicked the snot out of this old SRB chestnut. Strings was spot on with the leadwork too. During one part of the lead Scott just pointed over at Strings and said "What he said". Nicke Andersson is a great drummer and tonight was no exception. In Sweden there is a term, "trummis räka", for a drummer who can do insanely difficult fills and recover back to the beat. During "Soul Mover" such an
event occurred and it's still boggles me very time I watch the video of this show. Helvete!
The band left the stage and, despite having been told earlier that there was to be no encore, I knew from the audience's reaction that there was NO way the band was getting out the building without at least one encore. I was right. Scott came back on stage and introduced Wicked Wilson Pickett's "Funky Broadway" which then kicked into high gear. This was followed by "Land of a 1,000 Dances" and once again the band departed....only to be called back yet again with cries of "en gong til" (Swedish for "one more".) And the band obliged with Arthur Conly's "Sweet Soul Music" which tore the roof off the ballroom. 'Nuff said.
5 Rolling Rocks outta 5, natch
Set list: Funky Broadway Instrumental Jam/Get On Back/I Have To Quit You/My Mojo Ain't Workin' No More/Would You Change Your Mind/I'm Losing You/Monkey Time/Top Of The Stairs/Funky Fever/Can't Turn Me Loose/She Messed Up My Mind/Widow Wemberly/Hijackin' Love/Phoenix/Soul Mover/First Encore:Funky Broadway/Land Of A 1,000 Dances/ 2nd Encore: Sweet Soul Music
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