Twelve years after last appearing at The Egg, Leftover Salmon returned to Albany for a nearly two-hour set in the intimate Swyer Theater. Fans danced in the periphery, while others remained seated, tapping their feet to the rhythm and mouthing the words to familiar lyrics, yet rarely seen live in these parts. Going in with no expectations, this marked my first opportunity to see Leftover Salmon after 14 years of patient listening.
Drummer Alwyn Robinson stood out immediately, not only because of his presence behind the kit in a bluegrass band, but especially because he did not overshadow his bandmates. He was not driving the songs nor was he reserved to the point of a feigned presence on stage. Robinson is the ideal bluegrass drummer.
Giving a nod to recent corruption news from the nearby Capitol, Vince Herman introduced “Hey Woody Guthrie,” calling on the fabled folk legend to return as the good fight is still being fought. “Flight of the Durban,” led by Andy Thorn on banjo, was upbeat and a long journey through a composition that could double as a soundtrack for a travel video. “Troubled Times” and “High Country” were on the country side of things, while an upbeat version of Dylan’s “Simple Twist of Fate” was a refreshing take on a classic folk tune.
Drew Emmitt showed masterful prowess on the mandolin and switched to electric guitar during an extended jam, following the same style of Robinson—not taking an overpowering Warren Haynes-esque solo, but augmenting the existing jam. Herman introduced “Two Highways,” a song he dedicated to his wife to-be (as of next week) in Mexico during Strings n Sol festival prior to band intros, capping off the set with a lively cover of T. Rex’s “Bang a Gong (Get it On).” The band returned to the stage with a standing ovation from the audience and performed “Gold Hill Line” for an encore, prior to signing autographs in the lobby for the ardent fans.
Leftover Salmon performs tonight at Higher Ground in Burlington, VT, Brighton Music Hall in Boston, MA, on Dec. 4 and The Wolf Den in Uncasville, CT, on Dec. 5.