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Review: Buckethead still making it happen after 20 years

October 8th, 2012 Posted in Opinion

By Matt Thurber
Photo by Ben Hansen

SALT LAKE CITY—This fall, Buckethead’s seminal album “Welcome to Bucketheadland” reached a milestone, marking 20 years of masked madness. To celebrate, Buckethead hit the road with his custom-made Gibson guitar and that’s about it for a short U.S. tour.

Buckethead lit ’em up in Salt Lake. Ben Hansen photo

This time around, rumors of That One Guy on bass and Pinchface on the drums turned out to be false, but it didn’t really matter. With recorded bass and drum tracks, Buckethead wasted no time into the riffs by starting the set with Jowls. And while he didn’t start at the beginning of his musical catalog, Buckethead took the audience to Bucketheadland past, present, and with a glimpse of the future.

Having shared the stage with everyone from John Zorn and Bootsy Collins to collaborations with Viggo Mortsensen, Buckethead showed why he’s the master of his craft.  Here’s a guy who can step into Guns N’ Roses and not miss a lick. He’s the same guy who tried out for Ozzy, but refused to remove the mask. Buckethead calls the shots, and as long as he’s making music, he’s happy.

As Buckethead continued to solo and bust out robot and ninja moves, he treated the crowd to a few Praxis classics such as Meta-Critic and Crash victim. Although he wasn’t there in person, you could sense the spirit of Praxis keyboardist Bernie Worrell in the room. Things got even better when the robotic sounds of “Welcome to Bucketheadland” filled the room. If there’s one signature song that encompasses Buckethead, this is it. The fans knew it, Buckethead knew it, and his soloing sounded just as good as in 2012 as it did back in 1992.

As with most Buckethead shows, the master pulled out his bags of gifts for all the good (and not-so-good) girls and boys in Salt Lake City. Having just entered October, Buckethead passed out Halloween masks, action figures and all sorts of goodies. One fan even presented Buckethead with a life-like Bruce Lee action figure, to which Buckethead nodded with approval.

After all these years, the mystique of Buckethead has not worn off. Sure we have the Internet to credit for all the information and misinformation about Buckethead, but that hasn’t changed the fact that he’s one of the best soloists in the world. One of the few guys who can call Axl Rose a friend, he also has credibility among musicians of many different genres.

While Buckethad played a few other gems like “Soothsayer” and the newer “Lebrontorn,” it was the mix of classics that made the show so special. While the tour is offically over, the Buckethead legend continues. For all we know he could be auditioning for Prince or playing some club in the Bay Area under the name Romeo Collinsworth. Maybe he’s in Japan working on the score for some martial arts movie. With Buckethead, you never know, but the mystery is what makes the man. Sometimes not knowing the story or coming up with fragmented stories about the Buckethead only adds to the legend.

Either way, Salt Lake City enjoyed Halloween and Christmas all in the same day thanks to Buckethead.


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