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Concert Reviews:
Garry Tallent makes sparks fly at the Magic Bag
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com

» See more SOUND CHECK

FERNDALE -- You don't spend more than 45 years playing alongside Bruce Springsteen and not know how to put on a good show.

So it was not surprising that E Street Band bassist Garry Tallent delivered a vigorous hour-and-40-minute concert on Tuesday night, April 25, at the Magic Bag. It was not a Springsteen show -- nor was it intended to be. There were also no calls for "Broooooce!" from the small but fully engaged crowd, but more than a few for "Garry!" And Tallent and his six-piece band, showcasing his first-ever solo album "Break Time," served up a roadhouse/saloon-style performance that was intimate and low-key compared to the usual arenas and stadiums he plays, but still stylistically wide-ranging and frequently surprising.

It was also "sort of a homecoming" for Tallent, who was born in Detroit and moved when he was eight years old. "The town looks good," he announced early in the show.

Though rooted in rockabilly, the 24-song set was all over the roots rock map, from the creole flavor of "Ooh La La" -- which Tallent told the Magic Bag crowd he wrote "mainly to piss off French people" -- to the bluesy tenor of "Tell 'em I'm Broke" and the ballads "Break Time" and "If Love Would Change Your Mind." Tallent also gave the ensemble -- which included Los Straitjackets' guitarist Eddie Angel, Jack White band member and multi-instrumentalist Fats Kaplin (playing a tenor banjo that was a gift from White) and Kaplin's wife Kristi Rose on vocals -- plenty of room to flex its musical muscles with solo spots during his songs as well as on a variety of covers. Rose, for instance, sang an affecting lead on the Collins Kids' "Rock Boppin' Baby," while Angel led the troupe through the instrumental "Rampage."

Tallent, sporting cool rocker Ray-Bans and playing guitar rather than bass, also tossed in complementary versions of Sonny Burgess' "If I Could I Would," Carl Perkins' "Pink Peddle Pushers," The Band's "Move To Japan," the instrumentals "Apache" and "Walk Don't Run," and Chuck Berry's "Brown-Eyed Handsome Man" -- often demonstrating a rich, Springsteen-like knack for amiable song introduction storytelling. And his own "Stay Away," "Charlene" and "Why Do You Do Me Like That" breathed enough fire stand alongside his heroes' music.

The encore was worth waiting for as well. "Are we gonna get in trouble for going over time? I'm used to that," Tallent quipped, acknowledging Springsteen's multi-hour marathons before ripping through his Boss' "From Small Things (Big Things One Day Come)" and Buddy Holly's "Crying, Waiting, Hoping," which Tallent produced for Marshall Crenshaw on the "La Bamaba" soundtrack. He may have just one solo album but he demonstrated a far greater musical reach than that on Tuesday night, and when he promised to "see you again real soon" anyone at the Magic Bag would tell you Tallent would be as welcome back on his own as he would be with the rest of the E Street Band.

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