By Brian Tucker
(originally published in Performer magazine)
May 24, 2010 – Greenfield Lake Amphitheatre – Wilmington, NC
The fact that ALO (Animal Liberation Orchestra) played an outdoor amphitheater with a fortified and oft-used Shakespearean background set behind them speaks greatly – not only of the band’s laid back attitude which heartily mirrored their music, but also echoed their ability to make use of anything at their disposal. During a second set the band performed on the “second floor” of the set, churning out “Girl, I Wanna Lay You Down” with sparse instrumentation, the largest of which was an accordion which accompanied singer Zach Gill.
Below them in the pit and in the rising area of seats were people lifting their kids onto shoulders and grooving to the band’s catalog, many songs which came from new album Man of the World. Stomping through the title track as well as “The Champ” and “Suspended,” the band played much of both sets with calm commitment, like scientists playing in a lab, utilizing unorthodox instruments throughout the show.
But it must be noted the band really showed its moxie and love of varied music by way of cover choices. In-between their song “Welcome to Your Barbecue,” a song highlighted by Gill’s delivery of the lyrics, “Welcome to your barbecue/Where we’ll roast all your dreams that didn’t come true,” the band easily segued into Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” bringing the crowd even higher.
They upped the stakes throughout the evening, inviting opener Chris Valen onstage for a blistering take on Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” with guitarist Lebo working his electric-acoustic instrument. They closed out the night with a sludgy, funky version of Joe Walsh’s “Life’s Been Good.” ALO managed to transcend jam-band playing by keeping it soulful and very fun.