Rusted Root Review/April 1st, 2017
The night seemed to be setting up for a perfect return home show for Pittsburgh’s own Rusted Root. Never having lost contact with its roots over the past 20 plus years, Rusted Root always plays one or two shows for their “first” fans here in Pittsburgh. Having the ability to having known and grown up with lead singer Mike Glabicki, I can tell you that not much has changed with the frontman over the years. Still a very easy going “people person” just like he was growing up. To put the exclamation mark on my point, Mike sat in the crowd prior to the show and for the entire opening act which was a very entertaining Nicholas David from the San Francisco area and more recently “The Voice”.
Nicholas David is a very peaceful soul as you can just tell from looking at him and listening to him direct folks prior to his show. His voice is soulful and strong and honestly, I can’t understand why he didn’t go farther on the show “The Voice”. He got some chops. He was very entertaining for the hour that he was on stage and kept then Pittsburgh crowd of around 400 right in the middle of his hands.
Rusted Root wasted zero time getting on stage. Nicholas Davis left the stage at 845pm and Mike and his bandmates were heading into the first song on 905pm. And the packed to the capacity crowd at Jergels’ in the northern suburbs of Pittsburgh were ready for this year’s dose of Root!!
Welcome to My party was the opener and one that surprised me. They had opened with so many other songs on the past tour, it’s nice to be surprised these days with a great set opener. Glabick sounded great and well rested for the month off that they had had prior to the show. Martyr, Lost, Food and Monkey pants were the next few songs and again some surprises. The rest of the band, including Liz Berlin, sounded and played in top form. Liz’s voice always seems to saturate the venues that I catch them at around the country over the years. That’s one that you can always count on with Berlin’s vocals.
Glabicki’s vocals and guitar playing are and always have been top notch for the band that he wants to front. Nothing has changed since the last time I saw him play and sing. He makes magic come out of any guitar he picks up. Dirk Miller and Colter Harper on the other guitars always help left the songs into a different aura when it comes to a Root show. I guess that’s what they are supposed to do, but they do it tremendously. As always, Preach Freedom and bassist Patrick Norman truly complement each other when it comes to keeping the beat for the night. Both are tops at their game and really have given Root their “funk” over the years. I truly enjoy being on the side at a show and getting to see each of them perform and play.
The night continued into Cinnamon Girl, Blue Diamonds and Laugh along with Man, Not Machine. Glabicki and Berlin both need each other to make most of those songs work and leaving the crowd humming one of them on the way home from the show. While both are excellent vocalists, these core of songs are better with both of them singing on. The heart of the show included favorites Raw, VooDoo, Rebel, Rebel, and XTC. It was a great closing to an incredible night of Root music followed by an encore of Root anthems which included Scattered, Send Me on My Way and of course Back To Earth. All three of the songs on the encore were as powerful as the 3 opening songs. Root rarely loses it focus nor it’s ability to keep the sold out crowd dancing and wanting more.
The show ended just as it opened. Tons of Root fans looking for more Rusted Root.
And I must say on a final closing point. I got to the show early to watch some NCAA hoops and catch up with Mike Glabikci. IN that time, I noticed A LOT of young Rusted Root fans. To the point that off the side of the stage, I got to talking to a young gentleman who was about 14 years old. And I point blank asked him “are you here with your parents by choice or by force?” just joking around. And he looked me right in the eyes and said, “No, I’m a huge Rusted Root and Michael Glabicki fan…..”. I think the look back to him was as priceless as his was to me. It’s great to see ANOTHER generation of Rusted Root fans getting ready to take over and carry the torch.
Words and All photos © 2017 Ed Thompson