The Weight Band ‘Live In Japan’

The Weight Band, Live In Japan

By Mike O’Cull

The Weight Band taps into the enduring legacy of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees The Band on their new album Live in Japan.

Set to be released on November 4th, 2022 on Weight Band Records, the record documents one amazing night of live music captured at Billboard Live in Tokyo on August 31st, 2019. It was The Weight Band’s first gig in Japan and the crowd assembled to witness this happening and got to experience a roots rock show that surpassed all expectations. The set list was well-chosen, the players were inspired, and the songs spoke for themselves.

Keeping the flame of The Band’s iconic Woodstock Sound alive for present and future fans is no small task but the lineup of guitarist Jim Weider (The Band, Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble Band, Jim Weider Band), keyboardist Brian Mitchell (Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble Band), bassist Albert Rogers (Jim Weider Band, Jimmy Vivino), drummer Michael Bram (Jason Mraz) and keyboardist Matt Zeiner (Dickey Betts) not only handle it well but add their own spark to it. Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett of the equally-legendary Little Feat also lend a hand.

The Band was a Canadian-American rock band that originally came together to back up rockabilly vocalist Ronnie Hawkins in 1958. The group first came to prominence, however, for supporting Bob Dylan on his first electric tour in 1966. After leaving Bob, they dubbed themselves The Band and began an acclaimed career of their own. Members Rick Danko (bass, guitar, vocals, fiddle), Garth Hudson (organ, keyboards, accordion, saxophone), Richard Manuel (piano, drums, vocals), Robbie Robertson (guitar, songwriting, vocals), and Levon Helm (drums, vocals, mandolin, guitar) blended strains of Americana, folk, rock, jazz, country, and R&B into a new whole that built their legend.

Their 1968 debut release Music From Big Pink is considered to be one of the most influential records ever made and has lit up generations of musicians and fans.

From the night’s first downbeat, The Weight Band takes control of the room. They open the show with a rocking take on “Chest Fever” from Big Pink and immediately come alive. Their pocket is huge and their vocal harmonies are spot-on. Brian Mitchell’s organ solo is ferocious and Jim Welder’s guitar work is aggressive without being overbearing. As an ensemble, this bunch is as good as it gets.

A joyous version of The Grateful Dead’s “Deal” is a high point of the night and features Brian Mitchell delivering some absolutely ripping piano licks while also singing the lead vocal. You can feel the energy flowing freely from the stage to the audience and back again in the way we all live for and, for a moment, the world is a better place.

The string of some of The Band’s most famous songs that make up the back of the set are what everyone came to hear and The Weight Band doesn’t disappoint. “Ophelia,” “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” “Up On Cripple Creek,” and “The Weight” are everything we need them to be and illustrate the timelessness of The Band and the music they gave to the world. This version of “The Weight” also features Paul Barrere of Little Feat’s final live vocal performance before his death in October of 2019. It’s a bittersweet moment in rock history but you need to hear it all the same.

The night ends with Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released” and a better choice couldn’t have been made. It winds the show down with feelings of peace and unity shared between the musicians and the audience and is a reminder of the humanity we all share. It will honestly move you to tears. The Weight Band played a perfect show on this night in Tokyo and now we get to be part of it all. Stop doing whatever you’re doing and go listen. Highly recommended.

Pre-order/Pre-save Link for the album Here

Watch The Weight Band Trailer “World Gone Mad”


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