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Non-Prog Concert Reviews

Mountain

Live in Rockford, IL, 2005

Review by Mike Korn

What an absolutely gorgeous night for a concert this was. After weeks of scorching above 90 degree heat, we had finally gotten a break in the last two days. July the 2nd saw a clear evening of gentle breezes where the temps topped out at about 70 degrees or so. Combined with Davis Park's riverside location and the mellow vibe coming from the crowd, it was a great night to chill out and enjoy the rock.
Mountain are certainly deep in the roots of that rock and roll. They have been grinding it out for 35 years now, mostly on the strength of their anthem "Mississippi Queen". But I found out there's a lot more to them to that. There's genuine heaviness and power to the thick and syrupy guitar licks of Leslie West that you can hear echoes of in newer bands like High On Fire, Black Label Society and Queens of the Stone Age. The sort of classic heavy rock I heard from Mountain tonight is what many younger bands have vainly been trying to grab a hold of.

Mr. Leslie West is Mountain, in most regards. The once titanic singer/guitarist has lost considerable poundage in the last few years and has trimmed his lengthy locks to a more manageable length but, man, can he still crank it out. He had good back up from longtime veteran Richie Scarlet on bass and vocals and a talented drummer whose name I didn't catch (original Mountain drummer - Corky Lang - ed.) but who threw probably close to 50 drumsticks into the audience during Mountain's set. West hit the ground running with some fat, sludgy guitar grooves that got a good response from the audience. He's also quite entertaining with his stage raps. "We love this town," he told us with a gravelly, East Coast voice." We've probably been here before but were too high to remember much about it." He also got a chuckle when he related how his Mom put him in a talent show "when she was under the influence of narcotics" and he lost out to a tap dance act. "Better practice some more, I guess. Well, I did and that's how I'm here tonight!"

Mountain played "Theme From an Imaginary Western", written by recently departed producer and band member Felix Pappillardi along with Cream's Jack Bruce, with more melody and delicacy than their other tracks and then segued neatly into a high powered version of Cream's "Crossroads" that got hands clapping. The sound during Mountain's set was kind of variable and West's guitar sometimes lost power during key points, but it was a pleasure listening to this guy jam. "Nantucket Sleighride" remains a gem of heavy progressive rock merging old Sabbath at its heaviest with a more melodic, psychedelic feel. This is one of the great proto-metal tracks of the early 70's.

Mountain wrapped it up with the extremely unsurprising cover of "Mississippi Queen", which seemed to be delivered a bit slower than on record. I can't say it was an impeccable version of the classic, but it WAS a classic, delivered by the original creators and it had the crowd on their feet and into it. West told us that Purple would soon arrive to blow our socks off and bid us farewell. Mountain was an excellent choice to open this show.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.
 
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