Bass virtuoso Les Claypool, best known as Primus' frontman, performed at the Majestic Theatre in Madison, Wis., on Oct. 15 on his current "Duo de Twang" tour. The show featured Claypool with longtime friend and musician Bryan Kehoe as an acoustic two-piece on bass and guitar, respectively. The Reformed Whores offered a musical comedy routine to get the night started.
The duo played in a relaxed setting--the pair were seated in front of a faux campfire--as Claypool led them through a number of Primus, solo and cover songs. Though it didn't quite play out like a session of "Storytellers," Claypool did interject stories, quips and random musings between songs that offered a brief look at his off-the-wall personality.
Opening with Jerry Reed's "Amos Moses" gave the crowd a quick feel for what was to come on the night. Claypool leaned back in his chair and slapped his strings with his thumb, intermixing thumb tapping with brief flicks of flamenco strumming to achieve his trademark funky bass groove. The acoustic nature of the show offered a more subdued feeling than his electric play with Primus, but the signature sound was still distinctly Claypool. Kehoe generally followed Claypool's lead, using a slide on his pinky finger to yield a blues-influenced sound.
Claypool asked the crowd, "I'm a bit of a space cadet, have I played here recently? I know I haven't been in this building, but was I here recently." It had been a day longer than two years since Primus graced the Orpheum Theater in 2011. He described the concept of the tour following "Wynona's Big Brown Beaver" stating, "I wanted to come up with a band that sits around a campfire, drinks various forms of alcoholic beverages with my good old pal from many, many years Bryan Kehoe." Kehoe interjected, "And shoot the s*** and play a song every now and then."
In between songs, Claypool frequently teased the fans with various song introductions that ranged from Primus' "Southbound Pachyderm" to "Cosmic Highway" to Rush's "Cygnus X-1," giving them just enough before breaking into something different. Kehoe's soulful guitar play was the perfect companion to Claypool's thumpy bass grooves.
"I found out that when you move to the country and live in a region where people don't necessarily take cabs home from the local bars...that they drive their pickup trucks down the middle of a two-lane road," prefaced Claypool, "So I wrote 'Buzzards of Green Hill.'" He later introduced the crowd to something different, "You're about to have your life changed forever, changed for the better. I'm going to introduce you to Stompin' Tom Connors. He was considered the Johnny Cash of Canada."
Claypool asked the crowd, "So, is this what you were expecting, or you were expecting huge stacks, pyrotechnics, nudity, barking dogs...". Fans replied with a simple "blown away."
The biggest crowd response came on a revamped cover of Alice in Chains' "Man in the Box" and Primus' "Jerry Was a Race Car Driver." The Reformed Whores joined the duo for The Ventures "Pipeline" that also included strong crowd participation. Claypool used the prior night's show in Minneapolis to goad the crowd into bringing the roof down. They left the stage after roughly 90-minutes and returned to play the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive" to end the show.
Les Claypool Duo de Twang setlist:
Amos Moses (Jerry Reed cover)
Wynona's Big Brown Beaver (Primus cover)
Red State Girl
Buzzards of Green Hill (Les Claypool Frog Brigade cover)
The Bridge Came Tumblin' Down (Stompin' Tom Connors cover)
Hendershot (Les Claypool and the Holy Mackerel cover)
Man in the Box (Alice in Chains cover)
Rumble of the Diesel
Jerry Was a Race Car Driver (Primus cover)
Pipeline (w/ Reformed Whores) (The Ventures cover)
Stayin' Alive (Bee Gees cover)