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Steve Winwood Concert Review
Steve Winwood
Marcus Amphitheater (Summerfest)
Milwaukee, WI

by: John Paulsen

Paulsen Home / Music Home / Entertainment Channel / Entertainment Web Guide

ALSO! Check out John's recap of Summerfest and more reviews from the event:

John Mellencamp and John Fogerty
Tom Petty and The Black Crowes
Weezer and Pixies

Forty five minutes into what turned out to be a two-hour set, a vast majority of the crowd (including myself) was sitting on their hands waiting for something -- anything -- recognizable from the legendary keyboardist, Steve Winwood. In addition to having a successful solo career (peaking in the mid-'80s), Winwood was a member of the Spencer Davis Group, Traffic and Blind Faith and has a plethora of songs in his arsenal, so it was a curious move to start the set with six tunes that only the die-hards would recognize. The band did sound good, but the material was just not striking a chord with the audience. When Winwood finally started into "Higher Love," I expected he'd play three or four popular selections then retire to his tour bus for the evening. Boy, was I wrong.

After "Higher Love," he played a twenty-five minute version of "The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys," one of the best songs from his days with Traffic. This marathon had a mixed effect on the crowd, but compared to the first half of the set, I was in heaven. Winwood then came out from behind his piano and sang "Back in the High Life Again" before the evening's most rousing performance, the terrific "Dear Mr. Fantasy." This is Traffic's best and most popular song, and Winwood took over lead guitar and played a couple of blistering solos before it was over. Based on the ovation, the crowd thoroughly enjoyed this trip back to the '60s. Next up was "I'm a Man," which Winwood wrote while he was with the Spencer Davis Group. (The song was later covered by Chicago with good results.) After a short break, the band returned and performed "Gimme Some Lovin'," the other hit from his days with the Spencer Davis Group. This was the last of a series of seven songs that completely turned the show around. Sure, it would have been nice to hear the classic Blind Faith song, "Can't Find My Way Home," but it's hard to complain about the back half of the set, as I left the Summerfest grounds thoroughly surprised and satisfied.

Send any questions, comments or wine stories to jpaulsen@bullz-eye.com




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