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Fully at the helm

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Levon Helm The Peabody Oct. 1 Fully at the Helm Levon Helm The Peabody Oct. 1 Levon Helm, the Arkansas music icon who helped found The Band, brought his Delta upbringing to bear on the style of this iconic group of the ’60s and ’70s, and it influenced such Band favorites as “The Weight” and “Cripple Creek.” But Helm didn’t include those songs Saturday, and didn’t need to, in a two-hour-plus performance that started and finished with Memphis-style high-energy, soulful rock ’n’ roll. Yes, Helm can still sing despite past serious throat problems, and his voice still sounds like Band fans would expect. His daughter, Amy, brings beautiful backing pipes, and can take off on a lead vocal when called upon. Helm’s fine ensemble band, ranging from bluesman Little Sammy Davis to versatile session guitarist Jimmy Vivione, seemed to have a blast throughout. The 17-songs-or-so set was highlighted early by Al Green’s “Take Me to the River.” Helm then switched gears, moving from drums to mandolin, and the group went acoustic for some intimate, back-porch stylings. The finale was pure, straight-up rock ’n’ roll with soulful Amy closing it out with “Shake a Hand,” which felt like a big group hug. A nearly full ballroom in the Peabody loved every minute. — By Jim Harris But Helm didn’t include those songs Saturday, and didn’t need to, in a two-hour-plus performance that started and finished with Memphis-style high-energy, soulful rock ’n’ roll. Yes, Helm can still sing despite past serious throat problems, and his voice still sounds like Band fans would expect. His daughter, Amy, brings beautiful backing pipes, and can take off on a lead vocal when called upon. Helm’s fine ensemble band, ranging from bluesman Little Sammy Davis to versatile session guitarist Jimmy Vivione, seemed to have a blast throughout. The 17-songs-or-so set was highlighted early by Al Green’s “Take Me to the River.” Helm then switched gears, moving from drums to mandolin, and the group went acoustic for some intimate, back-porch stylings. The finale was pure, straight-up rock ’n’ roll with soulful Amy closing it out with “Shake a Hand,” which felt like a big group hug. A nearly full ballroom in the Peabody loved every minute. — By Jim Harris But Helm didn’t include those songs Saturday, and didn’t need to, in a two-hour-plus performance that started and finished with Memphis-style high-energy, soulful rock ’n’ roll. Yes, Helm can still sing despite past serious throat problems, and his voice still sounds like Band fans would expect. His daughter, Amy, brings beautiful backing pipes, and can take off on a lead vocal when called upon. Helm’s fine ensemble band, ranging from bluesman Little Sammy Davis to versatile session guitarist Jimmy Vivione, seemed to have a blast throughout. The 17-songs-or-so set was highlighted early by Al Green’s “Take Me to the River.” Helm then switched gears, moving from drums to mandolin, and the group went acoustic for some intimate, back-porch stylings. The finale was pure, straight-up rock ’n’ roll with soulful Amy closing it out with “Shake a Hand,” which felt like a big group hug. A nearly full ballroom in the Peabody loved every minute. — By Jim Harris

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