Al-Saadi describes music as a conversation. He enjoys the spontaneity and the interactions between himself and his fellow musicians, as well as between band and audience. That was the inspiration behind Real--to keep it real: no auto-tuning, no cut-and-paste editing, just live studio tracks straight to tape. This philosophy carries over to Al-Saadi's performances, too. At the Arena, he, Valdez, and Stearns were having a blast despite playing without a stage in front of a large-screen TV at a sports bar. The chemistry was terrific. They played a few more covers, including Jimi Hendrix's "Manic Depression" and the Grateful Dead's "Tennessee Jed," before turning primarily to Al-Saadi originals: "How It's Gonna Be," the gospel-tinged "Gone," and a long version of "What it Means," complete with bass, drum, and guitar solos and a Led Zeppelin "Heartbreaker" tease neatly inserted in the middle, began the second set. All three songs appear on Real. Four more originals followed: one more from Real and three from In the Round, before another pair of covers (Elmore James/the Allman Brothers' "One Way Out" and the Grateful Dead's "Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo") finished the show.
In addition to the trio's regular Monday gig at the Arena, Laith Al-Saadi also plays solo shows most Tuesdays at the Black Pearl. He'll be at the Habitat Lounge in Weber's Inn on Dec. 11, and he's one of the guest stars in the Ragbirds' annual Ebird & Friends holiday show at the Ark on Dec. 13.
[Originally published in December, 2014.]