The Edge and The P.H. Jazz Band
April 27, 2006
On Thursday night the Preservation Hall unofficially re-opened and celebrated its 45th anniversary with performances by local musicians and The Edge, U2's guitarist. He, along with producer Bob Ezrin and Gibson Chairman and CEO Henry Juszkiewicz, founded the Music Rising program to replace instruments lost by area musicians in the hurricane.
This was a Gibson sponsored event, and it was a very positive moment. The city thanked The Edge for giving back, and in exchange, he played a little guitar for the full room.
The brief party started with a performance by local pianist Henry Butler. Before he played Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer," I had been taking him for granted, but he killed it(as much as you can possibly "kill" a ragtime song). When I heard the opening bars of the song, I was thinking it was gonna be a boringly reverent facsimile. But, Butler improvised and threw in flourishes that gave the song color beyond its years. He really impressed the crowd and got their hearts pumping. Lately, I've been saying Brian Coogan is the city's best pianist, but it's still gotta be Butler.
Next, Meters guitarist Leo Nocentelli joined Butler for a loose version of Professor Longhair's "Tipitina." The song had its moments, how could it not? Still, the interaction between Butler and Nocentelli was underrehearsed. Halfway through the song, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band provided accompaniment and saved the duo's effort.
The party's last performance was what everyone there was waiting for. The Edge came onstage to perform U2's "Vertigo" with the band and vocalist Clint Maedgen, the man behind Bingo! and Liquidrone. Expectedly, there was a new arrangement. The song that originally had a punk energy became a finger-snapping, mid-tempo creeper. Brilliant! It worked, and this jazzy shuffle was a perfect match for the band.
Maedgen took advantage of his moment and shone, while The Edge was pretty darn good, as well. What an amazing, glass-shattering range Maedgen has! Once the crowd figured out what the band was playing, they were into it big time, all smiles and singing along. Two of the clowns from Liquidrone shot off some confetti into the crowd at the apex of the song, which just added to the celebratory and happy vibe.
The only thing that didn't go with the song was when Maedgen sang Bono's admonition, "Just give me what I want and no one gets hurt." That could have been left out, only because it was too vociferous for the occasion.
After the song, the patrons and the band took to the street for a second line around the block. Nice touch. Nice ending.
See photos of the event at http://www.gibson.com/allaccessfeatures.aspx?aliaspath=/AllAccess/Backstage%20Pass%20Profiles%20Gr%20(2)