Steve Winwood Shows He’s Still The Man And New Jersey Gives Him Some Lovin’

Singer-Songwriter Lilly Winwood opens “2018 Greatest Hits Live Tour” gig at NJPAC

Advertisements

While mainstream music these days generally doesn’t excite me, luckily, some great artists from my preferred decades of the ’60s and ’70s are still around and tour. Even though their number is decreasing, I couldn’t possibly see all of them. Too many rock & roll shows, too little time and not enough dough means making tough choices. This can be tricky, especially when it comes to artists I’ve seen before like Steve Winwood. In his case it didn’t take long to convince myself that another gig would be worth it. That show happened last night at New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark and was a true blast, a blast from the past!

Things kicked off when a young woman walked on stage with just an acoustic guitar and casually introduced herself as Lilly Winwood. The 22-year-old singer-songwriter, who released her debut EP Silver Stage last year, is one of Winwood’s four children. I would describe her music as folk-oriented Americana. She has a decent voice and did a beautiful job. Here’s a clip of The Hard Way, a tune from the aforementioned EP. Apparently, it was captured last April at another opening for her dad with whom she has toured for the past couple of years in this role, which also includes singing backup vocals on some of his songs.

Following Lilly’s short set and a brief intermission, it was finally Steve’s turn to take the stage. And he didn’t waste any time to remind the audience that he still is The Man with a great voice who can make that Hammond roar mightily. Winwood’s set kicked off with I’m A Man, released as a single by Spencer Davis Group in January 1967. Here’s a clip. Also, take a look at that kick ass backing band!

In addition to being a master of the Hammond, Winwood is a pretty decent guitarist – frankly, something I sometimes forget. In fact, the bio on his official website notes he also plays the mandolin. Here’s Can’t Find My Way Home, one of the two Blind Faith tunes he played. As he was performing the song, I selfishly thought that I’d be quite okay if the couldn’t find his way home and just would keep on playing all night!

While the show was billed as a journey through the more than five decades of Winwood’s music, most of the set focused on this early work with Spencer Davis Group, Blind Faith and of course Traffic. Here is a classic by the latter he played, Empty Pages, from the John Barleycorn Must Die album released in July 1970.

At the outset of the concert, Winwood stated they eventually would get to playing songs that are more present. After an hour or so into the set, he started to deliver on that promise. Domingo Morning is a tune from his eighth solo album About Time, which appeared in June 2003 – at least something from this century, as Winwood dryly observed. The performance featured a cool extended solo by percussionist Edwin Sanz together with drummer Richard Bailey. Here’s a clip. The sound quality isn’t great, but it’s the only live footage of the track I could find on YouTube.

This was followed by the final two songs of the regular set, Roll With It and Higher Love, Winwood’s only hits that topped the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in 1988 and 1986, respectively. For both tunes, Lilly joined on backing vocals. I actually thought Steve and her sounded really nice together. Here’s Roll With It, the title track of his fifth solo album from June 1988, my favorite among his more pop-oriented records.

The show’s encore brought three other highlights: John Barleycorn Must Die, Dear Mr. Fantasy and Gimme Some Lovin’. Since I can’t decide which of the three to select, heck, let’s just post clips for each! John Barleycorn Must Die, a traditional arranged by Winwood, is the title track from the above mentioned Traffic album. While the cameraman apparently was quite excited and his hand shook in the beginning of the clip, it gets better as the tune goes on!

Dear Mr. Fantasy is from Traffic’s debut record Fantasy, which appeared in December 1967. I thought this tune featured Winwood’s most impressive guitar work of the night.

Last but not least, Gimme Some Lovin’, the Spencer Davis Group classic from 1967. What a great tune to finish a terrific show!

This post wouldn’t be complete without acknowledging Winwood’s fantastic backing band: In addition to Bailey (drums) and Sanz (percussion), the line-up included José Neto (guitar) and Paul Booth (saxophone, flute, keyboards) – no bass! With Baily and Sanz forming a compelling rhythm section, I can’t say I was missing a bass, which somewhat pains to admit as a former bassist.

According to the schedule, The 2018 Greatest Hits Live Tour is hitting Upper Darby, Pa. tonight and will travel to Mashantucket, Conn. tomorrow. The sold out tour wraps up on March 15 in Bethlehem, Pa.

Sources: Wikipedia, Setlist.fm, Steve Winwood official website, Billboard Chart History, YouTube

 

12 thoughts on “Steve Winwood Shows He’s Still The Man And New Jersey Gives Him Some Lovin’”

  1. Do you have the new live album? I am generally not a live album fan but I like going to concerts. Does that make sense? Sounds like he played the songs you’d want to hear if you went to see Steve Winwood! Any more concerts on your agenda?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, last year, Winwood released “Greatest Hits Live,” which like last night’s show mostly focused on the great old stuff with Spencer Davis Group, Blind Faith and Traffic!

      As for other concerts, I also have tickets for Aretha Franklin (NJPAC, March 25), Buddy Guy (B.B. King Blues Cub, NYC, April 18) and Lynyrd Skynyrd (PNC Bank Arts Center, June 22). I’m also weighing to see Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers later in the summer (also at PNC).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, while I’ve gone to concerts for more than 30 years, I’ve definitely ramped up things over the past couple of years. It pretty much has coincidenced with the blog, which I started in June 2016.

        As for Steely Dan, yep, Donald Fagen is keeping things going – as long as his health allows it, according to what I read.

        In early January, they announced a double headliner summer tour with the Doobies, another favorite band of mine. Things kicks off May 10 in Charlotte, N.C. and go all the way until mid-July – an ambitious more than 30 dates!

        Frankly, I’m also wondering a bit about Steely Dan’s quality. I’m much less worried about the Doobies who I saw in the early 2000s and who sounded awesome – I think the same lineup from back then is mostly still in place. Importantly, the two original vocalists still are – perhaps the toughest roles to replace!

        The thought that Walter Becker won’t be there saddens me. On the other hand, Fagen is known to surround himself with top-notch musicians, just like they did when Becker was still around. Plus, I’ve never seen Steely Dan, even though they’ve become one of my favorite bands.

        And who knows how long Fagen will be able to keep doing this. He’s 70. Unfortunately, not every “aging rocker” has the stamina and determination of a Mick Jagger or Paul McCartney!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. While you are ramping things up- I am slowing down as far as concerts go. Last year I saw U2 twice and Steve Earle. As I get older I am tending to not like being in crowds as much. It never bothered me before but does now. I have my eyes on maybe going to see the John Fogerty/ ZZ Top concert in a few months….. Not to discourage you because it was only one concert but a friend of mine went to see Steely Dan maybe ten years ago and was disappointed. Again only one concert and one person’s opinion. .. Yes not all the aging rockers go on and on like Paul or The Stones!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thanks. BTW, ZZ Top and John Fogerty at PNC are on my radar screen as well!

        The problem is at some time even a rock & roll nut like me needs to face the music and realize that paying for all of this stuff is becoming prohibitive at a certain point!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Glad for you that you got to see Winwood (wish I could, but it would be too long a drive). He’s a rock chestnut. Nice to see he’s doing some Spencer Davis Group material. His daughter looks a bit like him (and Uncle Muff!). Can’t say I was impressed with her music, though. I guess Dad felt obligated to put her up there!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Winwood definitely still has it, and I’m glad I went to the show. I had seen him first a few years ago, so initially, I was a bit hesitant whether I should see him again. After all, there are many other artists I like, who I’ve yet to see.

      As for Lilly, while I wouldn’t necessarily buy her music, I actually think she is legit, and not just the daughter of a famous rocker. In fact, her style is very different from her dad’s music, which I believe is a good thing. With Steve being such an iconic artist, it’s got to be very tough for her to be taken seriously.

      Like

      1. When we saw Santana a few years ago, his son came out for a few tunes with some woman. It was just awful as I recall, some jacked-up discoish shit. Yeah, it was completely different from his father’s music, if by different you mean inferior. The crowd hated it and it was pretty much a total miscalculation on Carlos’ part. So sure, I’m all for giving the kid a break but make sure he/she is sympatico. As to Winwood’s kid, not bad, nothing special from what I heard.

        Like

  3. Interesting. The closest this tour came to us was the Foxwoods casino in Connecticut. Odd because bands don’t usually skip Boston. Oh well, still sounds great and he is definitely part of that classic era. I too am struggling with all the shows I want to see. I just heard that Joe Jackson is touring as is Todd Rundgren’s Utopia. Had I not overspent a fortune on Skynyrd I might have gone to see both. Alas.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s