CONCERT REVIEW: Big Head Todd & The Monsters w/ Ronnie Baker Brooks at Slowdown in Omaha

Big Head Todd and the Monsters at the Slowdown in Omaha, NE on Thursday, January 11, 2018. Photo by Dean Birkheimer.

“Even Monsters Are Beautiful”

Alastair Reynolds, Poseidon’s Wake

January 11, 2018 – Todd Mohr, Brian Nevin, Rob Squires and Jeremy Lawton, the members of Big Head Todd & The Monsters are currently touring in support of their November 2017 LP release of “New World Arisin’” . This trek brought them to The Slowdown in Omaha, Ne where they brought along a friend, Ronnie Baker Brooks. These two bands put on a mammoth show that kept the crowd captivated and entertained all evening.

The show opened with Ronnie Baker Brooks. If the name Brooks in association with the blues rings a bell, it should as Ronnie Baker Brooks is the son of famed blues musician Lonnie Brooks. Lonnie passed away last April, but his son Ronnie is keeping the Brooks name more than alive and well. RBB is also touring on the heels of a new LP released about a year ago titled “Times Have Changed”. This album was produced by Steve Jordan, drummer of the SNL and Late Night w/ David Letterman studio bands. The album and Ronnie himself are nominated for 2018 Blues Music Award Contemporary Blues Album and Artist of the year.

Ronnie kicked off the show with “I Had My Chance” and right from the start you know you are watching a master musician. Ronnie’s guitar skills are marvelous. I found myself fixated on just watching his hand move up and down the fret and his various styles of picking. His 2nd song “Come on Up” was the first one played off the new album. He followed with another song from the new album “My Love” and then “Born in Chicago”. Todd Park Mohr of BHTM joined Ronnie and his band on stage and as “Twine Time” was being played we could hear Todd and Ronnie’s guitars conversing. The audience was fever pitched and Ronnie knew we had to be brought down. He mellowed us out with “Times Have Changed”. This song features his vocals and they were soulful and passionate. “Let Me Love You” and “Long Story Short” were next and to end his set Ronnie chose “Take Me Witcha” This is a true old school blues song that we never wanted to end, but when it did and Ronnie left the stage we all wanted him to take us wit-him.


RONNIE BAKER BROOKS SET LIST
I Had My Chance | Come On Up | My Love | Born In Chicago | Twine Time | Times Have Changed | Let Me Love You | Long Story Short | Take Me Witcha’


One of the good things about seeing a band that’s been around as long as BHTM is that you will ultimately run into somebody your own age and begin to reminisce about the shows you’ve seen in your lifetime. This is exactly what happened to me at this concert. Me and this fella that I’ll call Bob, because I don’t know his real name and Bob is easy to spell, well Bob and I chatted for about 45 minutes about our youth and the bands we saw back in the 70s and 80s. Bob told me that this was the 11th time he would be seeing BHTM and that he never gets tired of them. I confessed that I have never seen them live, but when it was over, I knew exactly how Bob felt and knew from this moment on I would do my darnedest to see them as often as I can

BHTM opened their set with a song from their critically acclaimed new album “New World Arisin’”. “Roomful of Mirrors” was the perfect opening song. It presented their sound while at the same time introducing us to their new music. This entire set showcased amazingly tight and talented musicians. Their sound is clean and crisp and it seems as if every note is hit perfectly. The audience was mesmerized by these performers and I don’t believe a single person lost eye contact with what was happening on stage.

They performed 18 songs for us, each one as good if not better than the other. My personal favorite was “Detonator”. This is off the new album and has a Husker-Du quality about it that I particularly enjoyed. BHTM executes a set list that they feel caters to the audience of the evening. If you see them in one town, the odds are it will be a totally different happening in another town. The legion of fans in Omaha, were emphatically pleased with the musical selections chosen by BHTM. There were many fans who have a lengthy relationship with the band and they were ready to re-live their youth. It’s hard to really describe their style of music, or genre if you will. It is of course rock, but there is some fuzziness about some of their songs while others songs are full blown blues inspired. Whatever label you want to put on them, they are without doubt crowd pleasers.

We got to hear fan and radio favorites like “Bittersweet” and “It’s Alright”. Just before the end of the main set we were treated to “New World Arisin’ and “Broken Hearted Savior”. To boisterous applause and screaming the band left the stage. After a quick time-out they returned and gave us “Glow” and then ended the magnificent evening with “Circles” If you had to put the entire show into one song and want to know what this band is about, this would be the song.

Do yourself a favor and check out this live version of “Circles” and by all means, do what I’m going to do and catch this band as often as you can:


BIG HEAD TODD AND THE MONSTERS SET LIST
Roomful of Mirrors | Hey Delilah | The Damaged One | Wipeout Turn | Crazy Mary | Detonator | Long Coal Train | Please Don’t Tell Her | Resignation Superman | It’s Alright | Everything About You | Mind | Bittersweet | Moose Song | New World Arisin’ | Broken Hearted Saviour
[ENCORE]
Glow | Circle


– Dean Birkheimer, Go Venue Magazine Photojournalist (all photos by Dean Birkheimer)

BIG HEAD TODD AND THE MONSTERS

 

 

RONNIE BAKER BROOKS

 


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