Music Review

The Roots dig deep at House of Blues

Guitarist Kirk Douglas and drummer Questlove of the Roots, shown performing in New York in March.
Jason Kempin/Getty Images/File
Guitarist Kirk Douglas and drummer Questlove of the Roots, shown performing in New York in March.

Just as they did last year, the Roots arrived in Boston the day after Christmas to give Hub fans a little extra something for the holidays.

The tireless Philly hip-hop crew took to the stage at the House of Blues Wednesday and barely paused for breath during their dynamic, close to two-hour performance, which reaffirmed their “Legendary Roots Crew” moniker.

Unlike most touring acts, the Roots don’t adhere to a standard “hits plus a handful of new tracks” set list. The band burrows into its own diverse brew of a catalog — steeped in rap, blues, rock, funk, jazz, gospel, and deep soul — and plays snippets and wide swaths of cover tunes that suit their fancy.


In the former category, every band member got a moment to shine over the course of nearly two dozen tunes and several lengthy jams. Guitarist Kirk Douglas stepped up to play the sinuous riff and sing the mellifluous hook to “You Got Me” before transitioning into a blazing solo. James Poyser broke down a clutch of jazzy and funky keyboard solos that went straight to the hips on tunes like “Mellow My Man.” Damon “Tuba Gooding Jr.” Bryson helped hold down the bottom end on his sousaphone while still displaying some fancy footwork. And bandleader/drummer Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson kept the enterprise on its rhythmic toes as emcee Black Thought (Tariq Trotter) elegantly spewed out the inventive rhymes to tunes like “How I Got Over” and “Proceed” with admirable precision and stamina.

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The high-spirited house band for “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” also romped through bits and bobs of “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses, “Love to Love You Baby” by Donna Summer, “Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin, “Jungle Boogie,” by Kool & the Gang, “Locked Out of Heaven” by Bruno Mars, and in one of the night’s peaks, “Men at Work” by Kool G Rap & DJ Polo.

If the Roots want to make playing Boston the day after Christmas an official tradition, a sold-out crowd would likely save the date.

Sarah Rodman can be reached at
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