Levon at Asbury Park!
The Levon Helm Band, The Paramount Theatre, Asbury Park, NJ, 02.16.2008
Review by Raymond Gehringer
I'm just back from Levon's show at the Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park and this was the BEST concert I've ever been to in my 43 years. The second best was Levon and Friends at Bethel Woods, third best... take your pick on any Ramble. I'M SO STOKED!!! Alexis P. Sutter and the Benett Brothers opened the show and won the crowd over without any problem whatsoever. Then Levon came out to a huge ovation and kicked ass from the very first minute onstage. He opened with Rock & Roll Shoes and he kept the momentum going from there. Teresa Williams, Larry Campbell, Jimmy Vivino, and Brian Mitchell all got turns in the spotlight and what can I say except they are all such integral members of Levons band. Little Sammy Davis took four tunes in all and he gets me every time. I've seen Little Sammy with Levon a bunch of times now but he was in exceptional form tonight... actually he's always in exceptional form but tonight was one of those nights! Each of the band members totally rocks in their own way and make the show that much more enjoyable. I should also mention that the GREAT Howard Johnson graced the already amazing horn section with Steve Bernstein and Eric Lawrence and played bass sax, tuba, and piccolo.
As Butch had reported on the BFB Phoebe Snow came out and sang at the last Ramble... we'll I was four rows back to the right of the stage and spotted her in the wings. She came out and sang THE MOST GORGEOUS version of "Into The Mystic" by Van Morrison that I ever heard, period. She may have the best voice I've ever heard on a human being, she had the crowd going nuts... she is a beautiful soul and you have to hear live her to appreciate her gift. She followed up with a bluesy rendition of Tossin' and Turnin' (in the Maybelle Thorton style). Then Max Wienberg of the E Street Band and the Late Night with Conan O'Brien band came out and joined Levon and his late night band mates, Jimmy V. and Mike Merrit, on Rag Mama Rag. It was BIG crowd pleaser and got thunderous applause.
It's almost impossible to pick a single highlight but seeing Levon get the appreciation he truly deserves, ovation after ovation really made me feel good... if forced to choose one highlight I'd say it was "I Shall Be Realesed" with Levon taking the 1st verse and the entire cast of characters joining in followed by just a "KILLER" version of "The Weight". This was my birthday present from my wife and it was about thew best gift I could have hoped for!!!!!!!!!
I feel like I should write more but I'm too "wound up" at the moment. I can't go to bed even though it's pushing 2:00AM... I'm going to watch the television for a bit and hopefully "wind down". Best regards to everyone in BAND-LAND and get out and see Levon!