New album, new record label, new guitarist — no matter.
The idiosyncratic NRBQ goes its own merry and loopy way, churning out exquisite pop songs, rambunctious free jazz, bouncy country ditties and a few R&B tunes. Only four of the 20 numbers performed came from “Message for the Mess Age,” released last month by Rhino, perhaps showing the Q’s reluctance to alter the act for anyone as well as showing its dedication to familiar faves.
The new disc is as much a mixed bag as the Lingerie concert. Some of the humor is heavy handed and destined for the outdated pile, while other songs belong in the live show. None of those were performed.
Despite a 25-year recording history, NRBQ has never risen above cult status. (They did, however, survive being managed by wrestling guru Captain Lou Albano). For close to 10 years, the band has done consistently excellent shows that emphasize the band’s great pop material, and this show was no exception.
Guest trombonist Tyrone Hill and trumpeter Dave Gordon from the late Sun Ra’s Arkestra added a zest and zaniness to much of the night, particularly on an explosive version of Ra’s space-jazz classic “Rocket No. 9.”
Guitarist Al Anderson, touring with Carlene Carter, is obviously missed for his sweet harmonies and power pop numbers.