The old adage, “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” was confirmed this past weekend as the band, Dragon Smoke pulled into San Francisco for a stop at The Independent, one of the best venues in the city to enjoy a show. Known for it’s excellent light and sound, it was a perfect evening with one of the finest bands working in New Orleans (or anywhere else for that matter). Dragon Smoke delivered one of those elusive performances one always hopes to see and hear once in a while. One that is perfectly paced, that has plenty of dynamic and emotional range and delivered by a band where one can sense they are right there…in the moment….at the top of their game. Played to a packed sold out house, the band played until way past midnight and the crowd responded in kind; loudly expressing their joy and satisfaction.
From the opening note to the last, Ivan Neville-keyboards & vocals, Eric Lindell-guitar & vocals, Stanton Moore-drums and Robert Mercurio-bass, came out swinging and never let up. It was an evening filled with songs to dance and listen to. Vocals were shared between Eric and Ivan; every one of them, a gem. Eric’s guitar work is direct, heartfelt and quickly pulls you in. It’s interesting to note too, that he uses no effects….not a single stomp box on the stage for him. His vocal style and sound is also very unique to him. Ivan, of course had that Hammond B3 filling up the space with that wonderful sound…surely one of the most soulful instruments ever created. And in his hands, along with his vocals….can it get much better? And with Stanton Moore driving on drums and Robert Mercurio on bass, it was a tasty ride. Whether working a smooth sensitive groove or a hard driving funky beat, Stanton had it all. Complex rhythms and colorful textures along with beautiful tone and runs from Robert made for a fine complement to Eric and Ivan.
Ivan made a reference to the fact that this was the fifth year they’ve been coming through San Francisco, so if you missed this one, there’s a good chance they can be seen again next year. Of course, Ivan can also be seen with Dumpstaphunk, while Stanton and Robert can be seen with Galactic, who will be swinging through the bay area again soon.
Stanton Moore & Robert Mercurio
Stanton Moore, Robert Mercurio, Ivan Neville