It was epic. The rain, the social media drama, the confusion over who and what exactly this was – none of it mattered in the end.
The Claypool Lennon Delirium – that’s Les Claypool of Primus and Sean Lennon of John and Yoko – delivered an immensely satisfying show Thursday at Canalside, capping the venue’s season with what well may have been its strongest show. It was funky, it was freaky, and it offered an emporium of psychedelic sonic delights.
First things first – yes, the local openers scheduled to play did indeed play, and both Randle & the Late Night Scandals and Kickstart Rumble offered well received sets. There was much ado about an earlier assertion that the headliner did not want local openers on the gig, but all was worked out before show time.
The Claypool Lennon Delirium arrived loaded for bear, and that bear might’ve had a drink or two, so instead of shooting it, the band simply welcomed it to the party. And why not? This was an all-inclusive event, part Beatle-esque trip-fest and part freak-funk throw-down, a sonic assault befitting the nominal principals.
The band – Claypool on bass and vocals, Lennon on guitar and vocals, Money Mark on keys and Paul Baldi on drums – played most of its recently released debut, and then threw in some absolutely on-point covers as icing on an already rich and velvety cake.
The Delirium took the stage with a saucer full of the 3-part “Cricket & the Genie,” and then offered most of its “Monolith of Phobos” album, including “Boomerang Baby,” “Mr. Wright” and “Bubbles Burst.”
Lennon’s voice was impeccable – what his father’s might’ve sounded like had he been fronting the Flaming Lips or Mercury Rev – and his guitar playing was a revelation. The man can blow a serious solo or 10, let it be said.
Oh, and the covers they chose. It takes fortitude to tackle a Beatles tune for any area cover band, but if you’re John Lennon’s son and you take on your father’s iconic “Tomorrow Never Knows,” well, you’d better be bringing it, big time. Lennon was. He slayed it, and his bandmates did the same.
The band tackled Pink Floyd’s “Astronomy Domine” and King Crimson’s gauzy masterpiece “In the Court of the Crimson King” too, and both were rapturously received by the by then rain-drenched but still euphoric crowd.
The level of musicianship was at a serious high throughout the show. It’s not exactly news that Claypool is a monstrously talented bassist and a composer of delightfully unique songs, and Lennon’s playing and singing matched his partner’s throughout.
For any of the social media trolls who spent Thursday spouting uninformed opinions regarding the temporary cancellation of the local opening bands, Claypool took a few minutes to address the situation, making it plain that dissing the Buffalo bands was never on his radar, and to thank them for playing.
Are we good now, folks? Can we grow up now?
I predicted this show would be one of the very best of our summer season, back when it was first announced. I don’t get to say “I told ya so” too often. But I’m saying it now.