Generations and worlds collided Tuesday night at Crossroads KC.
The headliner was Claypool Lennon Delirium, a collaboration between Les Claypool, the unfettered (and often delirious) bass player for Primus and a long roster of side projects, and Sean Lennon, whose music resume includes a few solo albums plus work with Cibo Matto and The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger. He is also the son of Yoko Ono and the late John Lennon of the Beatles.
Tuesday’s show drew a surprisingly modest crowd, given Lennon’s heritage and Claypool’s status as a jam-band hero. Nonetheless, they entertained a crowd of 500-plus with a mix of songs from the duo’s debut album, “Monolith of Phobos,” a whirlwind of progressive rock, space rock, Eastern music and classic rock whose foundations dip into early Pink Floyd and more recent psych bands like Tame Impala and other inspirations.
The set list drew heavily from “Monolith,” but the duo dropped in a few covers that enlivened a crowd that seemed as interested in onlooking as indulging in the music. Lennon wore an ersatz military kind of uniform (which Claypool equated with a Girl Scouts uni), including what looked like a general’s hat. He played lead guitar. Claypool wore his typical derby, and his bass, whether an electric or acoustic or stand-up electric, dominated many of the compositions. They were backed by Mark “Money Mark” Ramos Nishita on keyboards and Paul Baldi on drums.
The two brightest highlights were covers of two seminal psychedelic songs: Pink Floyd’s “Astronomy Domine,” a Syd Barrett-era tune that was right in this band’s wheelhouse, and then “Tomorrow Never Knows,” from the Beatles’ sea-changing “Revolver” album. Lennon’s vocals on that were daringly close to his father’s.
The rest of the set visited the duo’s album and songs like “Mr. Wright,” “Captain Lariat” and “Bubbles Burst,” plus songs from other projects, like “Cosmic Highway,” Les Claypool’s Frog Brigade song.
After sweeping the crowd into a state of transcendence with “Tomorrow Never Knows,” they concluded with a Primus favorite, “Southbound Pachyderm.” That would have felt anticlimactic, but Claypool doesn’t take a moment off and his unbridled enthusiasm spread to his bandmates and the crowd, most of whom remained to see what other quirky, unexpected but fulfilling surprise might erupt from this collaboration.