Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express gave Cleveland a lot of love last week and played a run of six shows over the course of three nights (2 shows a night, back-to-back) at Nighttown. I had the pleasure of seeing the last show on Saturday and enjoyed it immensely, as usual. I am very fortunate to have seen Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express 7 or 8 times, including a couple of shows at Gilly’s when I was a student at UD. If you can’t tell, I’m a big fan.
Brian Auger plays with his son Karma (drums) and his daughter, Savannah, used to sing for the band as well, but recently left to spend more time with her family (at least for now…). Word is, she’s pregnant! That was definitely one of the more bittersweet notes of this show. While I am really happy for her and it was very cool to see one of the original vocalists, Alex Ligertwood, I did genuinely miss those stellar Savannah Grace vocals. Over the years, Brian has brought on a variety of talented bassists and guitarists to join them on tour. Therefore, not only has each show I’ve seen featured fresh jazz improvisations and solos, but also always has fresh musicians, all with unique styles and backgrounds.
This tour features two stellar dudes with superb musicianship: Les King on bass and Yarone Levy on guitar. They are both tremendously talented and both fit in very well with the Oblivion grooves. Whether Les was laying down a nice foundation for the song or slapping out a fantastic bass solo, he had a super cool energy and didn’t miss a beat. Yarone was in front of me for most of the show so I was lucky enough to have an up-close view of his impressive finger-work and it was SOLID. In addition, the way he expressed his gratitude for the audience really stuck with me. I know the gross majority of musicians show their thanks in some visible manner, but his smile and body language communicated a genuine and profound thankfulness for the applause and support that I rarely witness.
Alex had very impressive vocals and a unique stage presence that is borderline spacey, but I dug it a lot. He also picked up the guitar a handful of times, in addition to a few small percussion instruments. It was great to see a man of his age sing, belt, and scat so well with such passion and power. Karma’s drum-work was on point as usual, keeping a strong beat throughout the show and showcasing the depth of his skill during the short, but sweet solo bars. To be honest – he seemed a little exhausted, but can you blame him? It was the homestretch of a long run. As always, Brian appeased the audience with his one-of-a-kind, smile-inducing grooves on the Hammond B3 and played with that unmatchable energy of his, complete with a handful of witty remarks throughout the show.
Here are some clips I took that night:
So…there was supposed to be a bigger grubbing component to this post, but unfortunately, Nighttown dimmed the lights for the show right after we got our food. All of the dishes were delicious, especially the calamari appetizer and my main course, the La Frieda Flat Iron Steak. Everything seemed to be cooked to the perfect temperature and seasoned just right. I attempted to snap some pics, but you could barley make anything out with the limited lighting. After I took the picture with Brian (see above slideshow 🙂 ), I asked him what his favorite foods were. He said he’s a big fan of Indian and Italian Cuisine. Both GREAT choices.
I strongly urge all of you to check out Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express live if you get the chance. Also, try to catch a show at Nighttown as well – great grooves and grub, all in one spot!
Note: I attempted to jot down the setlist after the show, but did not succeed. If anyone has it, please share if possible. Thanks!