Claypool Lennon Delirium Review
June 17, 2016, Nelson Ledges Quarry Park
By Ryan Smith
“That’s Mars,” a guy standing in front of us says, gazing up into the night sky and pointing out a bright speck close to the nearly-full moon.
So it is, I thought with some wonderment. Man, how perfect is that?
This, I thought, right here, right now … how perfect is this?
And it was.
Seeing the phenomenal, newly-unhinged Claypool Lennon Delirium — taking crowds happily off into outer space, inner space, and hyperspace with the stuff of their debut LP, Monolith of Phobos — anywhere would be, well, phenomenal.
But this wasn’t just anywhere. This was Ohio’s best outdoor concert venue — the cozy, friendly, beautiful-beyond-words Nelson Ledges Quarry Park — and I can’t think of a better space, a better place, or a better time to have witnessed the dynamic duo of Les Claypool and Sean Lennon (along with some very outstanding company) in all their glorious action.
Everything about the June 17 marvel was beyond-words fantastic: The Delirium’s start-to-finish deep, delicious grooves. The intimate, way-into-it crowd. The night sky above us. The summer air around us. The pristine body of water closeby.
“It’s like electric Mother Nature,” said Lennon, looking and sounding truly switched-on by the vibes around him.
Perfect, I thought.
The lead-up to nightfall’s sonic sorcery was a musical marvel in itself, as the Dean Ween Group tore through a blistering, guitar-hefty set that was absolutely chockful of sweet, tasty licks.
“Is that enough guitar for ya?!,” Deaner, all smiles, asked after DWG’s fiery opening jam.
The crowd bounced to that, and cheered to that, and made ready for more, more, more.
And, as a special bonus to that already-amazing set, Mr. Claypool himself joined DWG for the evening’s beautiful rendition of Ween classic “The Mollusk.”
Like a happy dream come true, that was. The entire night and day we spent there was.
Another very special guest — the legendary funk pioneer and musical genius Bernie Worrell — was also set to appear with the Delirium that night. However, with fourth-stage cancer robbing him of his health, Worrell was unable to make it to Ohio.
Claypool talked to the crowd about it: “A huge friend of mine — and, I will say without hesitation — the greatest musician I have ever played with in my entire life, Bernie Worrell, is ailing,” he said, “and he wasn’t able to make it here today. Unfortunately, I think we’re about to lose one of the greatest musicians of our generation, and a couple of generations before us.”
At that, Lennon offered a healing toast to Worrell’s well-being: “To Bernie, man. Raise ‘em up, and raise ‘em up high.”
“So,” Claypool continued, “those of you who are into spreading your vibes, or praying — or whatever it is you do to, you know, promote positive thinking — send some of those vibes this evening toward our good friend Bernie, because he’s well-deserving of extreme amounts of loving.”
And, for a long moment, those vibes carried up and off into the air.
Worrell told me in a recent interview to preview the event that he sees the Ledges – with which he’s long been friendly and familiar — as “a healing place, a vortex, and one example of the good partnership with Mother Nature and music.”
That’s the truth. And here’s to hoping that the magic that filled the air there that night reached his heart and soul.
I’ll admit, I was sad to have had to miss the also-beyond-amazing Mad Tea Party Jam 5 that same weekend. But, having committed to covering the Delirium for the sake of comprehensive, hard-hitting journalism, there was no place on Earth (or Mars) that I could have imagined being better immersed in the wonder of amazing music.
It was, hands-down, one of the most epic of all the epic adventures in sound I’ve ever taken.
For that, I say thank you, Mr. Claypool. Thank you, Mr. Lennon. Thank you, Mr. Ween and company. And thank you, electric Mother Nature.
Ryan Smith is a freelance journalist who covers music, arts, culture and other topics throughout the region. You can follow him on Twitter @ryanmsmithplens.