[Slowhand] JT review (no E content)

Mel Boss darmel at sbcglobal.net
Tue Jul 29 13:26:14 EDT 2008

Hi Gang! We saw JT Sunday night at one of the world best venues, the Greek Theater in Berkeley. STEVE GADD was on hand as drummer, a nice bonus. Here's my review:
We saw JT at the Greek Sunday night, and despite the Greek's typical cold, damp air, Sweet-Baby-James warmed things up with talent, wit, and charm. JT's unwavering voice has maintained its renowned perfect pitch over the years. Along with a chorus of talented vocalists and musicians, the ample setlist proceeded with the precision of a STUDIO session drawing from the new "Covers" album.
Rather than belaboring the setlist with its many hits and favorites like Fire and Rain, You've Got a Friend, Mexico, Steamroller, here are some of the things about this program that made it different and special:
* First, there was no warmup band. Instead, The Band of Legends took the Greek stage at 7:30, played for an hour, took a half-hour break and played another hour plus including five encores.
* Then, JT took "no break" but rather stayed dutifully stagefront to sign programs, cds and apparel. He even accommodated an adoring, lovely fan for a smooch who then turned to the crowd for a cheer and flashed her ample, left breast (I'm rather detail-oriented about these things).
* James has an endearing, dry wit, and he chatted and bantered with the audience throughout the evening. The many anecdotes that he shared throughout the evening supplied a welcome warmth to the performance, and the one I found most endearing was that of "Sweet Baby James," a cowboy-lullaby he wrote to commemorate his newly-born nephew. He was funny and charming, and his delivery reminded me immediately of Bob Newhart!
* All the band members' names were painted on stage placards where they performed. A few I recall were Steve Gadd (drums), Luis Conte, Arnold McCuller (longtime band member) and Blue Lou (sax from the Blues Bros). This was a really nice touch that I have not seen previously.
* There were jumbo-screens on either side of the stage, which I haven't seen at the Greek facility, and I hope to see them from now on. The camerawork was well crafted. If this performance turns up on a DVD, it will be a great one to own.
I came away from the evening feeling thoroughly delighted about JT and where he's been. It was my third time seeing him perform in concert and my favorite. The first time was in gradschool in the mid-70's when his accompanying band was a reel-to-reel tape recorder. We saw him again at the Concord Pavilion about 18 or 20 yrs ago in a far less personal setting. Sunday night was special! He was thoroughly charming, generous, entertaining and engaging. There was no lull in the show, and I look forward to seeing him again.

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