Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
“Polite” is a word that you never want to read in a review of a rock concert. Or a blues concert. Or a soul concert.
Generally, you can count on rock musicians to crank it up a notch or two and cut loose more in concert compared to their recordings, but in front of a sold-out crowd at The Egg in Albany earlier this month, Scaggs actually seemed to tone it down rather than ratchet it up.
The vocalist-guitarist and his band came out swinging (literally) with “Runnin’ Blues,” but his next couple of tunes – from Scaggs’ most recent album, Memphis – fell short of the mark. The Spanish Harlem stroll of “Mixed Up, Shook Up Girl” lacked the authority that Scaggs exhibits on his recording, let alone the swagger ‘n’ sway of Willy DeVille’s classic original version. And while Scaggs’ recording of “Dry Spell” is soaked in gritty, down ‘n’ dirty blues, in concert the song sounded surprisingly tame, with a pristine melodica solo as a poor substitute for the distorted harmonica howl on the recording.
After sorting out some tech problems with his in-ear monitors, Scaggs slid into the sit-down, acoustic-guitar-fueled segment of the show, including an only partially successful stab at Brook Benton’s classic “Rainy Night in Georgia,” a sublime, graceful rendition of the traditional folk favorite, “Corrina, Corrina,” as well as “Gone Baby Gone,” steeped deep in the Memphis-based Hi Records sound of Al Green and Willie Mitchell.
Of course, he lit up his biggest hits, and “Lowdown” came close to the boiling point, as did “Lido Shuffle,” despite the fact that the crowd failed to erupt into the usual round of recognition-applause that typically accompanies the opening chords of an artist’s major hit. The crowd, it seems, was playing it too polite – just like Scaggs.
Scaggs’ five-piece band was spot-on throughout the night, especially guitarist Michael Miller and the multi-talented Eric Crystal, who did a yeoman’s job on saxophone, keyboards, guitar and melodica. In addition, the band was bolstered by vocalist Ms. Monet, who grabbed the spotlight for a mid-set crowd-pleasing medley of Sly & the Family Stone’s “Thank You (Fallettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” and Sam & Dave’s Stax Records gem “I Thank You.” She did a fine job but deserved more worthy, less hackneyed material to work with.
Scaggs and the band wrapped it up with encores of the sprawling blues jam on “Loan Me a Dime” and a final strut through Fats Domino’s “Sick & Tired,” that once again failed to live up to the original.
Ultimately, Scaggs smoldered all throughout the night, but he rarely caught fire.
Stacey Morris’ review at PointAPlace
BOZ SCAGGS SET LIST
Mixed Up, Shook Up Girl (Willy DeVille)
Rainy Night in Georgia (Brook Benton)
Corrina, Corrina (traditional)
Gone Baby Gone
Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) (Sly & the Family Stone) > I Thank You (Sam & Dave) (both featuring Ms. Monet on lead vocals)
What Can I Say
Loan Me a Dime
Sick and Tired (Fats Domino)