11/28/09 The Aquarius Music Hall, High Point, NC

Movin' On, Tides of Time, Hit the Groove, Blue Sky, These Are Better Days, Temporary Misery, Conscious Evolution, Locket and Key, Family Picture, Rockin Horse, Ring of Fire, If You Only Could, Arrows Pointing Sideways, I Don't Need a Riddle, Why You Wanna Leave Me? Seems to Want to Hurt This Time, Silverlined, Positive Friction, The Ones You Love, Voice in My Head, Hot Tamale Baby
Encore: Do It for Love,** No Place Like the Right Time

*Rob M. on bass
**Jeb and Tara only

By Paul Roberge

The Aquarius Music Hall is located inside the Natale Building in downtown High Point, which is a large structure (96,000 square feet, I read somewhere) that is a former furniture warehouse and showroom. (The building is for sale and can be yours for a cool $7 million, I was told.) This weekend marked the launch of the Aquarius Music Hall, which, it is hoped, will help enliven the downtown. I'll defer to High Point resident Terry "Gardeners know all the dirt" Killebrew's posts for detailed information about the venue. After entering a foyer from the parking lot, one climbs a flight of stairs to reach the club itself, which is enormous but really very cool. The stage is low, like at Ziggy's, only wider and open at the ends. Further back from the rail (literally, with removable metal fencing separating the audience from the act on stage), it can be difficult to see over taller people, given the lack of stage elevation. But I was given to understand that the sound was quite good further back.

It's late as I write this, and so I'll not indulge in one the vices of my profession (long- windedness) and cut to the chase: This was a fun show. The band seems to be at its best when things are loose and fast, and so it was this evening. The high point (no pun intended) for me was what I would call "David McCracken unleashed." David performed brilliantly this evening, treating us to some fine licks, especially during the extended jam in Hit the Groove, Conscious Evolution, and Ring of Fire, and with a particularly good "McCracken Moment" occurring in Blue Sky. When David and Jeb found the musical sweet spot simultaneously, and with the others laying down a solid foundation of rhythm, well, that's when the magic occurred. David also contributed some prominent and sensitive backing vocals in Seems to Want to Hurt This Time. Conscious Evolution featured an interesting, intricate jam. Voice in My Head was not as poignant as on other occasions, but memorable all the same. The Donna "machine" powered up to full throttle during Hot Tamale Baby. Do It for Love (with just Jeb and Tara) was a most pleasant surprise (a request, apparently). My daughter felt that Jeb started the song out with the wrong verse. If so, nobody seemed to notice or care. (Besides, it's his song -- he can sing it as he wishes.) Tara missed the bridge to No Place Like the Right Time, which evoked a sheepish smile from her and some good-natured mirth from those who caught it. But she picked it up when the instrumental cycle came back to that point, and so no harm, no foul.

A late addendum: Vic provided the kind of subtle rhythms that Rockin' Horse calls for. The guest bassist acquitted himself quite well. Tara looked radiant. I fear that in past reviews I may have given the impression of taking her superb musicianship for granted. Most assuredly, that is no the case. Aside from the one minor lyrical glitch, she was on her game, as always.

The vibe in the Aquarius was wonderful (knucklehead factor: negligible). Jeb said that the Aquarius could become Donna the Buffalo's "new home in the Winston-Salem area." One can only hope that the band will make it so.

I am thankful for so many blessings that I have been lucky to enjoy this evening, this holiday weekend, this life.

A fond good night/good morning to you all.

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