Koch 2007 / Esoteric 2016
Facing tomorrow again: live document of British legends’ latter-day resurrection.
2004 marked 30 years of this band’s sad demise and, since Gary Wright, who had left the line-up earlier, backed out of their 1998 reunion, nobody would bet on him committing to another bite of the TOOTH in the company of Mike Harrison. Yet it happened. With original drummer Mike Kellie backing them, the veterans ventured off to Germany for a couple of consecutive dates which were preserved on this aural and visual release, combined in one package now – somewhat fractured performance-wise, as it was both open air and indoor concerts and different settings break a smooth flow on DVD, but riveting nevertheless.
It’s easy to forget that Harrison plays ivories, too, always has, and two keyboards flank the stage here, so his and Wright’s sharing the same sonic space brings to life the competition of ever hard-hitting “Better By You, Better Than Me” – delivered by Mike’s fine voice and adorned with a glamorous synthesizer solo from Gary, employing his keytar to the hilt in “Hangman Hang My Shell On A Tree” as well – and creates wonderful dynamics in front of the audience. There’s mighty groove and powerful grit to “Waitin’ For The Wind” where the group recreate their classic menace while Wright and Harrison gracefully exchange vocal lines, and even though the former is decked in red and the latter clad in black at one of the shows, it results in tension rather than trying to relive Gary’s glam glory of yore.
They may build the repertoire around “Spooky Two” – the band’s finest statement – and, along the way, give new gravitas to the elegant “That Was Only Yesterday” or the funky, high-on-harmonies, “The Wrong Time” that feels refashioned to fit Wright’s solo streak, yet no less precious is the dusting off of previously rarely aired cuts off other albums. Given a new polish, “Sunshine Help Me” is stripped of psychedelia in favor of a soulful uplift, spiritual in its split call-and-response, whereas “Wildfire” gets a delicious bluesy shuffle, enhanced not only with Harrison’s harp but also with a nice ensemble interplay. KARTHAGO’s Joey Albrecht on guitar and LAKE’s bassist Bexi Becker give their all on “Evil Woman” for the old guys to let it loose and smile despite the song’s message. That was the magic of the moment, so albeit the band called it quits after a few more gigs some years down the line, this document has written a great final chapter in the TOOTH saga.