Fabulous Thunderbirds Friday January 12, 2007
Fabulous Thunderbirds Heat the Big Hall
By Glen Creason
Outside the Performing Arts Center the weekend temperatures were in the record setting low range but inside the heat was on, provided by the red hot “Fabulous Thunderbirds.” Their dense and energetic set of R&B with the accent on the “B” turned the elegant hall into the fanciest roadhouse this side of the Texas-Louisiana line. This is music that literally passes through you on a molecular level and while the volume was high, so was the talent of the fine five-man band lead by harp player/vocalist Kim Wilson. It is very much his band but the show is a team effort. Each guy gave his all to make the proceedings fabulous including the twin lead guitarists Nick Curran and Kirk Fletcher while top bassist Ronny James Weber and drummer Jay Moeller kept the beat thunderously rock steady throughout.
While it was a “Three Dog Night” outside, the music inside was miles away from that weather condition and indeed the old soft rock band of the 70’s. An enthusiastic audience boogied in their chairs, slipping off winter mufti and warming up to the fast and furious notes that flew from the stage. “Two Time Fool” started the fire, blending into “Trust My Baby” featuring just one of many blistering and beautiful guitar solos by Kirk Fletcher and his lightening left hand. “Bad Boy” and “Postman” were drenched with bluesy soul that is so well captured by the powerhouse voice of Kim Wilson. There wasn’t much coasting in this show but a sort of “wall of roadhouse funk” roared on from one song to another, only breaking for the occasional blues-laments in which Wilson alternated from his seemingly inexhaustible blues harp to his blues pipes. The only excesses seemed to come in the same area where elongated, director’s cut harmonica solos rolled up and down from county line to county line. I haven’t seen such wind since the last political convention on TV.
When the lead man did turn the mike over to guitarist Nick Curran, the young fella demonstrated a V-8 voice himself on tunes like “I Hear You Knocking” and a fine send up of Gatemouth Brown’s classic “Midnight Hour.” In the second half of the show “Wait on Time” was between a gallop and a giddy up but the pace returned to break-neck with a hugely potent “Blame It On Love” with one more scintillating solo by Fletcher. “Tell Me” contained an amazing harp solo that lead into the sizzling “You Aint Nothing But Fine” in which the entire band battled it out with their axes, sending notes like light-sabers flashing across the concert stage. Of course, the band kept the dessert tray of the Thunderbird trademark “Tuff Enough” for the last, including a rip-snorting solo by old-timer Kid Ramos who just popped in for one round of high-octane blues guitar. It may have been like a Helsinki Winter outside in the Cerritos night but inside the big hall it was Texas in late August, much to the joy of the assembled Thunderbird fans.