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Concert Reviews:
War and Treaty comes back to blow roof off at Detroit Homecoming

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

Posted: Friday, September 20, 2019

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DETROIT -- It's hard to get much better than the War and Treaty, any time and anywhere.

Put the duo on stage in its home state, however, and things tend to ascend -- and transcend.

The soulful Albion husband-wife duo, now based in Nashville, rocked Orchestra Hall on Thursday night, Sept. 19, to cap a busy day at the Detroit Homecoming gathering. With a characteristically force-of-nature set, Michael and Tanya Trotter and their ferocious six-piece band accomplished more in just over an hour than some groups do during an entire tour, powering their message of peace, hope, unity, empowerment and the power of a plain old good time through an inconsistent sound mix and annoyingly ubiquitous onstage videographers.

The roof was still on the home of the Detroit Symphony by the time the show ended, but rest assured there were points of the 10-song set when it was hanging on for dear life.

"To be here with you tonight is to be home," Michael Trotter noted early in the show, while Tanya recalled that the troupe was "scared out of our minds" the last time it played Orchestra Hall, a one-song appearance for the Don Was All-Star Revue during the Concert of Colors. On Thursday, however, the War and Treaty came in with confidence, passion -- and a head of refreshed steam after being named the Emerging Act of the Year at last week's Americana Music Awards in Nashville.

Like all good visitors the War and Treaty came with presents, too, in the form of a generous sampling of songs set for its third album, which the group will begin recording next week. After an opening tear through older favorites "All I Wanna Do" and "Healing Tide," Michael Trotter introduced "Lonely in My Grief," an emotive, bluesy duet that brought him to his knees at the end, though his theatrically tortured demeanor quickly changed into a triumphant grin. "Lion's Cage," written from the depths of one of the military veteran's PTSD episodes, had a hymnal feel, while "Gone" had the easy pop-soul flavor of a potential hit single.

"Five More Minutes'" offered more of the grooving soul that's the War and Treaty's stock in trade, while "Jubilee" was an exquisite a capella piece by the Trotters and guitarist Sam Wilson so strong that it should be left as-is, without much additional studio dressing when the album is recorded. It was also a beautiful lead-in to the closing "Down By the River," which the Trotters introduced with bits of "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" and "Amazing Grace" -- and some Detroit-centric vamping -- before blasting into their roadhouse version of church.

Like the Detroit Homecoming itself, the War and Treaty's show successfully straddled a line of celebrating something already good and also looking towards a future that -- from all evidence presented -- will be even better.

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