Les Claypool needs no introduction. The Primus frontman and bassist is probably the most well-known bass player of our generation. Back in the year 2000, Les took a hiatus from his main band Primus and formed Colonel Les Claypool’s Fearless Flying Frog Brigade to play the Mountain Aire Festival, a northern California jam band festival that takes place annually on Memorial Day. After releasing two live albums and one studio album back in 2000-2002, the band last went on tour in 2003.
The Fearless Flying Frog Brigade is on the road again for the first time in 20 years for the “Summer of Green” tour with a revamped lineup. Founding members Les Claypool (Vocals, Bass) and Skerik (Saxophone) are joined by Sean Lennon (son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono) on guitar, Harry Waters (son of Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters) on keyboards, former CAKE drummer Paulo Baldi on the kit, and Mike “Tree Frog” Dylan rounding out percussion.
Tonight’s stop on the “Summer of Green” tour features a co-headlining set with Jerry Harrison and Adrian Belew of Talking Heads fame with on their “Remain In Light” tour celebrating the 1980 Talking Heads album of the same name.
After the eclectic crowd that had gathered to get weird at the Township Auditorium found their seats the house lights dimmed and the crowd came alive as Jerry Harrison and Adrian Belew took the stage with The Cool Cool Cool band supporting. Wasting no time, they launched right into the Talking Heads classic “Psycho Killer”. The Cool Cool Cool band really helped to bring the funk and they certainly added to the stage show with some choreography. The Talking Heads classics just kept coming as they played the majority of the “Remain In Light” album with a few other notable songs thrown in. “Once in a Lifetime” and “Life During War Time” had fans dancing in the isles and singing along. The Talking Heads rendition of the Al Green classic “Take me to the river” had everyone on their feet clapping along to the chorus as the band got slowly got quieter, taking the volume down to a whisper as the crowd kept clapping in time, before returning to full volume for the final chorus. After finishing their set with “The Great Curve” the band was met with a standing ovation as they all locked arms and took a bow.
Remain In Light Tour: Website
Again, the house lights dimmed and green lights illuminated the row vertical flags at the back of the stage. “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” begins to play through the PA system and the crowd cheers as The Flying Frog Brigade takes the stage. Harry Waters, Paulo Baldi, and Mike Dylan march out in matching pith helmets and make their way to their respective instruments lined along the back of the stage. followed closely by Les Claypool and Sean Lennon who take their places out front on stage left and right respectively. Unfortunately, absent from the lineup was saxophone player Skerik who sustained a shoulder injury and will have to miss a few dates.
The show would start with a few Les Claypool songs, “Highball with the Devil” and “Rumble of the Diesel”. After some banter with the crowd and telling the origin story of the third song of the evening, written for a video game, and in an effort to impress his son, Les and company kicked into the mushroom munching song “Amanitas”. After another original song from The Fearless Flying Frog Brigade’s only studio album Purple Onion the crowd would get a treat in the form of a complete play through of the iconic Pink Floyd album Animals.
While I was born a little too late to catch the original Animals tour, seeing this talented group play the whole album was the next best thing, and the band was quite clearly enjoying playing the album as well.
As the Fearless Flying Frog Brigade songs started back up, Les handed things off to Harry Waters for a xylophone break that went harder than I thought was possible. If you're good enough you can make a xylophone sound like an early aughts electronica song.
After a few more original songs the band left the stage only to return for their encore, “Whamola", a song from the Purple Onion album that is played on the instrument of the same name. The whamola resembles a modern-day washtub bass with an electric pickup in lieu of a tub to amplify the sound. With a single string with a lever and pulley system where a tuning peg would normally be, the whamola is played by hitting the string with a drumstick and using the lever and pulley system to change the pitch by altering string tension or fretting against the neck. During the encore, Les Claypool cut loose a face melting solo on the seldom seen instrument that left fans with no doubt that this was the culmination of what was an amazing show. As the house lights came up "Pure Imagination" was playing through the PA system as dazed fans spilled out into the lobby.
Should the Colonel's Flying Frog Brigade touch down in your town, you should jump at the opportunity to see them. Les Claypool is an iconic musician, and flying frog brigade is made up of many of his equally talented friends.