The Word – October 10th – Ogden Theatre

The Word2

The Scene: One of the most anticipated tours of the Fall concert season was a visit from Blues-Rock super group The Word this past weekend.   The Word is John Medeski of Medeski, Martin & Wood, pedal steel ambassador Robert Randolph and The North Mississippi Allstars: Luther Dickinson, Cody Dickinson and Chris Chew. First conceived by John and MMW in 1998 while on tour with The North Mississippi Allstars, The Word is one of the rarest of musical showcases and provides a unique glimpse into Gospel, Sacred Steel and Soul realms that shine in a live setting.  When we arrived on Saturday night, the packed atmosphere in The Ogden Theatre felt exceptional and you could feel the anticipation dripping off the walls. As the lights dimmed and the first moan rang out from Robert’s steel clad fingers we knew we were bound for glory.

The Word:  The Word took the stage at 10:15 pm and with the lights down low Luther Dickinson wasted no time roaring into a NMA-esque jam accented by the wail of Robert’s pedal.  Although The Word recently released their second album Soul Food, the first from the group in 14 years, tonight’s set was focused more on cohesive jamming between all the musicians and letting the instruments concoct their own language. Only a few soulful vocals from Chris Chew punctuated a strictly instrumental performance.

I’ve always had a deep respect for Robert Randolph’s stage presence and tonight locked it in. Randolph just doesn’t stop smiling and his contagious energy wraps itself into the audience. Luther and Robert led for the first 30 minutes while Medeski kept the funky vibes on the keyboard.  The chemistry was near perfect with Chris Chew calmly laying down thick bass lines.  Cody Dickinson brought out the electric washboard for a moment but it seemed more out of place than you would see in a normal North Mississippi Allstars set and it didn’t feature prominently the rest of the show. Eventually, we did hear a magnificent “Without God,” from Robert and a nearly full version of The Rolling Stones “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” that had the crowd seeing the light. There were teases that made my head spin as Robert and the gang kept up the insatiable energy until the very end! Several encores and Robert’s thirst to keep playing kept me on the rail until Cody finally tossed his last frayed drumsticks into the crowd at 12:45 PM.

I must admit I walked out of the Ogden with more energy that I have at any show in quite some time, albeit a bit blurry from being slammed with amazing musicianship and joyous pedal steel for over 2 hours.  Certainly one of the best shows of the year and Denver is a lucky city to be included on such a short tour.

Energy: A+
Musicianship: A
Sound: A
Stage Presence:  A
Set/Light Show: B+

Overall: A


Who Is Jon Cass

I’ve worked various positions in the music industry with Madison House, Rock The Earth and Bohemian Nights. My dream is to travel the world and seek out all the good tunes, beer and food that make life so special. I have a healthy obsession with live music and I’m thrilled to share the epic moments with you.