Steve Winwood Concert Review
Marcus Amphitheater (Summerfest)
by: John Paulsen
out John's recap of Summerfest
and more reviews from the event:
John Mellencamp and John Fogerty
Tom Petty and The Black
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.
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