ALO (Animal Liberation Orchestra)
Great American Music Hall
February 26, 2022
All photos by Tom Dellinger
On a recent Saturday, ALO (Animal Liberation Orchestra) concluded a two-night run of their annual Tour d’Amour at The Great American Music Hall in San Francisco. An ALO show is always a fun time, but on this night, it was through the roof. Many came to the show decked in glitter, animal ears and more as they added to the vibe of the night. The stage was dressed with surfboards with beautiful mosaic designs by San Diego artist Rob Tobin as well as a dazzling big heart above the stage. The hall was well packed by the time the band hit and it was game on as the band, Dan Lebowitz (guitar & vocals), Ezra Lipp (drums), Steve Adams (bass & vocals), and Zach Gill (keyboards & vocals) set about to create their magic.
It was a two set night with no opener, but late in the first set the band was joined by Anna Moss who had opened on the previous night. Most shows with this band feel like you’re at the happiest place in the world and that was even more true on Saturday night. Surrounded by avid fans who had seen many, many shows, they were noticeably awestruck by the performance. Plenty of fireworks emanating from Lebo’s guitar as well as the always enjoyable laid back vocals of Zach Gill ,who is arguably the very definition of chill. Steve and Ezra were solid and relaxed. Interaction with the crowd was warm and genuine; even singing happy birthday to an audience member and extending greetings to the balcony. It was the kind of night you could feel the love and energy flowing from the stage to the house and back again; building through the night. And it felt good!
After a short break, the band returned and introduced friends from the band, Tea Leaf Green, who joined in on “The Garden Pt 3,” which went into “The Garden.” They proceeded to play “The Way You Make Me Feel,” after which Scott Rager took the helm on drums. The way the second set was unfolding was that Lebo brought out friends bit by bit and introduced them, the stage filling up as they all added to and enriched the sound. After Rager took the drums, a mic stand was brought out with colorful scarves tied to it and it was anybody’s guess who they would introduce next.
And it was none other than drummer Ezra Lipp making a grand entrance as the opening lines of Aerosmith’s “Dream On” filled the hall. With a bit of Steven Tyler, the moves of Joe Cocker and the tongue in cheek bravado of John Belushi, Ezra brought the house down! A tough act to follow, but there was plenty left to the night as this show ran until 1AM as the band continued and returned with a five-song encore that included Procol Harum’s “Whiter Shade of Pale” that had Lebo on the lap steel. A nice tribute.
It was one of those nights. One can toss out all sorts of superlatives and still just scratch the surface of what this one felt like. I like “epic.” Sure, I’ll use that, but those who were there know it was so much more.
Here’s a slideshow with more photos of the show by Tom Dellinger: