In New York for the first time in many years, Mick Taylor performed a six-night, twelve-show residency at the Iridium, the famed home of Les Paul’s weekly Monday night concerts. Anticipation was high, as long queues formed outside the venue prior to each of the sold-out shows.
Taylor looked good and was in fine spirits for these performances, and who wouldn’t be, with a band consisting of the great Bernard “Pretty” Purdie on drums, Wilbur Bascomb on bass, Hamish Stuart on guitar, Max Middleton on keyboards, and Arno Hect from the Uptown Horns on occasional saxophone. Wielding a familiar Les Paul for most of the evening, Taylor’s performance of originals, standard blues numbers, shuffles, and some Rolling Stones chestnuts was exactly what fans came to hear.
Opening with “Secret Affair,” the first track from his album A Stone’s Throw, Taylor’s vocals were as magnificent as ever. His guitar playing, both lead and slide, hasn’t waned over the years; he was spot on most of the time, with his signature tone fully intact just as it was in the early days.
Taylor treated the audience to three more from the same album as the show went on: “Twisted Sister,” “Losing My Faith,” and “Late at Night.” Newly-written “Fed Up with the Blues” and the instrumental portion of the Rolling Stones’ “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” served as set-closers, turning into a lengthy jam featuring all members of the band. As an encore, Taylor offered up another Stones track, “No Expectations.”
The final two shows of the run were different from the previous ten. As is tradition on Monday nights at the Iridium, the star performer sits in with the Les Paul Trio, and Taylor welcomed the opportunity to play with these musicians for two sets. Along with Middleton on keyboards and drummer Jeff Allen, Taylor joined guitar great Lou Pallo, pianist John Colianni, and the wonderful Nicki Parrott on bass, performing Taylor’s standard set. The Trio clearly made Taylor quite comfortable in their home, as was evidenced by the excellent performance by all. Kudos to Parrot, who rocked it on “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” in the first set—in the second set, Taylor gave her a bass solo.
About a half hour after the second set ended, Taylor surprised the small crowd still hanging in the club with a short performance to test out a one-off guitar by the Teye company. Taylor, with Allen, ripped through riffs of “Honky Tonk Women,” “Start Me Up,” “Brown Sugar” and others, sounding as if he played them every day. This short surprise set ended with a laugh as Mick said, “Now please don’t put this on YouTube!”
Taylor had a wonderful time during these performances and hopes to come back to do it again. Welcome back to New York, Mick!
– Barry Fisch