Ok, my ushering duties are done, the show is about to start, now to find a seat and enjoy the show…Oh wait… I scrounged up every chair I could find for the sell-out crowd. In fact, there were so many people that the tables had to share menus and sugar bowls. Not bad for a Sunday night.
Steve Forbert’s show at Caffe Lena was a one-man trip through his 30-plus-year musical history with an extremely appreciative, and knowledgeable, crowd in tow. From his opening song “Thinkin” – with guitar, harmonica and foot tapping (the floor looked like it was miked) – Steve walked a nice balance between songs and crowd interaction.
Maybe because it was a Sunday evening, the crowd, at first, seemed a little slow on their cues and left him hanging more than a few times on a particular line or word, leading at one point to his mock banging his head on the wall. Thanks to his assistant Tracy, who obviously was well versed on the songs, acting as a bouncing ball, the crowd soon understood what was being asked of them and, by the end of the night, hit almost all of their marks.
Throughout the night, Steve had an easy rapport with his audience, using such typical coffeehouse staples as clapping and finger snapping to help with his rhythm. I must admit, the crowd wasn’t too bad at this either.
Although most of the songs were originals, he also sprinkled in a few covers from Jimmie Rodgers (“My Rough and Rowdy Ways”) to the Rolling Stones (“Honky Tonk Women”). His rendition of “Moon River” reminded me of my youth listening to “The Andy Williams Show.”
Caffe Lena, by its very nature, is an intimate setting, but Steve was able to make it seem even more so. It appeared as though his entire show was unscripted, and more than once he asked the audience for requests. While it seemed as though everyone asked for something different, he was able to pick out many and come back later in the show and play them. From songs such as “Stolen Identity” to “What Kinda Guy,” his sense of humor really came through, making the evening truly enjoyable.
He finished off the evening strong with a two-song encore of “Thirty More Years” and “You Cannot Win If You Do Not Play.” The latter being another audience participation song that had everyone singing the chorus and wanting more. During the evening, he hinted that we should keep our ears open for an upcoming area performance. This led to a trip down memory lane (sorry about the cliché) of bygone venues.
Review by Ed Conway
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
STEVE FORBERT SET LIST
Come With Me
My Rough and Rowdy Ways
Hang On Until The Sun Shines Through
Worried Life Blues
Going Down To Laurel
Moon River (not Steve Forbert’s Moon River)
(The Beast of Ballyhoo) Rock Show
The Oil Song
Something Got A Hold Of Me
Write Me A Raincheck
????Breaking Up With Jessica
????Some Cats Life
What Kinda Guy?
Honky Tonk Women
In The Jailhouse Now
So Good To Feel Good Again
Thirty More Years
You Cannot Win If You Do Not Play