Canadian-born musician Pat Travers is fortunate to have a long and storied career playing rock and roll. He’s got an extensive discography with The Pat Travers Band, including at least one touchstone live release. This latest live album, Live at The Iridium NY, released through Frontiers Records in 2015, adds one more item for fans new and old alike to enjoy.
The Iridium is said to be one of the best venues to play music in New York, and this disc surely shores up that legend. As would be expected from a top-tier artist like Travers, the sound is board-quality, well-mixed, crisp and clear. There’s no potato audio here: you’ll be able to enjoy the band as they intend, and as they showcased at the time this was recorded. The band is tight, and they sound great.
It’s only a 12 song set, so some of his classic tracks are missing, but there’s plenty good enough represented here to please both the die-hard collectors and the casual fans. The instrument balance and overall tone is excellent, allowing full and rich enjoyment of all parts. It’s what a live album ought to sound like, replete with superior audio to anything found ‘quickly’ online. Another nice point is that the between-song sounds aren’t removed. You can hear endings, crowd noise, and any quick words Travers chooses to share with the audience. The addition of the between-song material lends an authentic live feel to the presentation.
The set itself is a nice mix: old classics revisit Travers’s roots, and the tunes from Fidelis reflect on the band’s recent past. Three cover tunes in a set of 12 can be an asset or a liability; Travers clearly makes it an asset. Ray Charles, Jimi Hendrix, and Ram Jam are covered nicely here, and each song has been stamped by Travers’ original sound. The melodic, bluesy, classic ballad “Josephine” is a decelerated valley, a sort of emotional palate cleanser or “ear break” for the mostly high-energy set. From the funky syncopation in “Gettin’ Betta” to the wailing lead in “Heat In the Street”, this album showcases what the band’s about: harnessing a raw, dynamic, scorching live energy.
Remarkable musicianship permeates the concert and it’s recording. Travers has what could be considered a quintessential rock vocal: dark, a little gritty, a little gruff around the edges, and perfectly honed to the songs he’s crafted. Bassist Rodney O’Quinn runs the gamut here, from super-snug in-the-pocket playing in “I’ve Got News For You” to more forefront work in “I La La La Love You”. There’s a short, and very well-executed, drum solo by “the master, Sandy Gennaro” after the false ending in “Ask Me Baby”. And of course, guitarist Kirk McKim gets a “Lone Wolf” solo spot before the band launches in to a sinuous, slide-heavy cover of Hendrix’s “Red House”. The harmonica, or “blues harp”, makes an appearance during “Spoonful” and “If I Had Possession Over Judgment Day”, courtesy Jon Paris. With the addition of harmonica, another ambient layer or dimension is revealed in those songs.
As an interesting aside, The Iridium provided two songs worth of footage on YouTube: “Statesboro Blues”, which didn’t “make the final cut” on to the album, and “Heat in the Street”. ‘Doubters’ can check the video against the audio, lending even more credence to the disc. The audio on those professionally-recorded videos is far inferior to what you’ll hear on this album. Not even a professional static camera set-up can match the precise balance from a well-made live album, and it shows plainly here. The disc is superior.
Something Travers’s “hammerhead” fans have known for years is readily apparent: that the band is excellent live, delivering tight performances, exceptional “jams”, and high-energy rock and roll without compromise. They rock out; they kick your ass. Guitar-driven classic rock fans will really enjoy this, because it’s rock at it’s purest form: vocal, guitar, bass guitar, drums. No excess ornamentation or orchestration is needed – the songs (plus copious, brilliant guitar solos!) have no trouble speaking volumes for themselves. Whether you were at this concert or not, you’ll want to give Live At The Iridium NY a listen if you’re even slightly a Pat Travers Band fan.
Rock And Roll Susie
Crash And Burn
Heat In The Street
I’ve Got News For You
Ask Me Baby
I La, La, La Love You
Lone Wolf (Kirk solo) / Red House
If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day
Pat Travers: Guitar, Vocals
Kirk McKim: Guitar, Vocals
Rodney O’Quinn: Bass Guitar, Vocals
Sandy Gennaro: Drums
Jon Paris: Blues harp on “If I Had Possession Over Judgment Day” and “Spoonful”