Saturday, July 26, 2014

John Hiatt and The Combo with The Robert Cray Band

John Hiatt, Richmond, VA
July 23, 2013

John Hiatt and The Combo

The Robert Cray Band

Innsbrook After Dark
Richmond, Virginia
July 23, 2014

The Robert Cray Band

John Hiatt and The Combo

     This was a blistering hot show on a muggy evening in Richmond, Virginia.  It was a night we Southerners call "close".   It was 98 degrees when the gates opened and besides an occasional breeze, it remained warm all night.  Fortunately both acts weathered the heat well and gave outstanding performances.

     The Robert Cray Band was a revelation to me.  I have a couple of the band's CDs, but never have had a full appreciation for what a fantastic guitarist Robert Cray is.  He weaves jazz chord progressions, effects, melody lines and bass runs together and creates blues masterpieces.  He also does this full chord vibrato thing that is something to behold.  He had the crowd with the opening chords of "Phone Booth" and never let go.  His voice is soulful and fine and complements his guitar stylings.  The band is very tight with drummer Les Falconer and bassist Richard Cousins keeping a steady groove and keyboardist Dover Weinberg adding plenty of blues with his piano and organ accompaniment.  The Robert Cray band opened early at about 6:20 PM and played a full hour and twenty minute set.  

     John Hiatt is one of my all time favorite singer-songwriters and someone I travel to see frequently.  I love his lyrics, his funky rhythms and his aw-shucks charm.  I have seen him solo, backed by the North Mississippi All-Stars and now with several iterations of "The Combo".  John Hiatt is like your favorite pair of sneakers or sweatshirt - the more you have them and the more "broken in" they get, the more you never want to part with them.   Each John Hiatt show is unique but each show guarantees fabulous entertainment.  This show was near the beginning of this tour supporting a new CD entitled "Terms of My Surrender".  He played three of his new songs including the title track which includes the instant classic Hiatt lyric "Love can go so very wrong, like a fat man in a thong."

     The highlights for me were the opening number "Like Your Dad Did", a rousing "Cry Love" featuring guitarist Doug Lancio on the mandolin and a super funky "Memphis in the Meantime."  The rendition of "Feels Like Rain" was also fantastic, starting with a Hiatt monologue about snuggling and spooning while a summer rain hits a tin roof.  He finished the song whispering the lyrics.  John Hiatt was at his funky best at this show, his voice in fine form and his band hitting on every note.  A noise ordinance limited his encore set to a wonderful full-band rendition of "Have a Little Faith in Me."

    It was a great night, despite the heat, in Richmond.

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