Photo by Bob Adamek.

Photos: The Funky Meters in Alexandria, VA

The funky Meters rolled into The Birchmere in Alexandria, VA on Friday, October 7th, kicking off a short run through the northeast. The Birchmere is one of America’s classic listening rooms. The hallway walls are festooned with singed show posters of most of the great bands of our time from Little Richard and B.B. King, through New Orleans favorites like Aaron Neville and Dr. John. Audiences there are respectfully quiet, content to get lost in the music. That presented an odd circumstance for a Meters’ gig, voiced by guitarist Brian Stoltz when he came out and said, “Oh my God it’s quiet out there”.

The band gave little chance to notice the quiet going forward, rolling right from “Fire on the Bayou” and “Love Slip Upon Ya” through their encore of “He Bite Me (The Dragon),” only stopping the music briefly twice to give some stage banter and talk to the crowd.

Meanwhile many in the crowd that couldn’t take sitting down for the show, lined the walls around the hall, dancing to the deep funky pocket.

At this point in their career (George Porter Jr. mentioned that he and Art Neville are about to celebrate their 50th anniversary of playing together), the band is so comfortable playing together that they can change directions with ease on the fly, drawing from a considerable library of original music. Stoltz broke a string and needed to replace it, no problem, the band shifted gears to a nice and easy bass solo by Porter Jr., getting whoops from the crowd as he quoted the Freddie King classic “Hide Away,” then turning it into a duet with drummer extraordinaire Terrence Houston, only to turn again into the Meters’ classic “Just Kissed My Baby.”

The highlight of the night came on the last song before the encore, “{Ain’t No Use.” It was the most aggressive funk groove of the night and the band really lifted off the ground behind Brian Stoltz’ guitar solo. The crowd shot to its feet by the end, screaming appreciation for the veteran funk giants.