There must have been something in that San Francisco water back in the 1960’s that acted as a delayed fountain of youth. A few weeks ago, 70 year old Steve Miller gave a stellar performance at Phoenix’ Ak-Chin Pavilion. Thursday night, July 10, 2014, at the Talking Stick Resort Grand Ballroom in Scottsdale, The Steve Miller Band’s former guitarist and vocalist, 70 year old Boz Scaggs, continued the tradition of high standards from Bay Area septuagenarians by delivering a well-received ninety minute set to a near sellout crowd.
With Scaggs having released seventeen studio albums in his almost 50 years of recording, there was plenty of music from his music catalog for him to choose. Unlike last year’s appearance in Scottsdale, where Scaggs drew heavily from his latest album release, 2013’s “Memphis,” this evening’s performance was more of a snapshot from each decade of Scaggs’ career.
There was 1960’s Boz Scaggs with “Loan Me A Dime.” There was 1970’s Boz with four selections from his multi-platinum selling album, “Silk Degrees,” such as “Lowdown” and “Lido Shuffle.” There was “Jojo” and “Miss Sun,” from the 1980’s. “Sick and Tired” and “It All Went Down the Drain,” came from Scagg’s 1997 album, “Come On Home.” And yes, Scaggs’ newest album, “Memphis,” was represented by two numbers, “Mixed Up, Shook Up Girl” and “Rainy Night in Georgia.”
With the wide variety of songs in both years recorded (1969 through 2013) and type (soul, rhythm and blues, top 40 pop, ballads) there was a little something of Boz Scaggs for everyone. And everyone seemed to be happy.
Happy doesn’t necessarily mean fevered, as the audience was fairly subdued throughout the night. However, Scaggs and his band, keyboardist Michael Logan, guitarist Mike Miller, bass player Richard Patterson, and saxophonist/keyboardist Eric Crystal were equally subdued. They were all business. But with Boz Scaggs, business is always booming.
Vocally, Scaggs was exactly what you would hope. Smooth, still able to hit those high notes on songs such as “Jojo,” and “Lowdown.” At times, mesmerizing, when he sang a stripped down, acoustic, version of “Rainy Night in Georgia.”
It took Scaggs’ highest charting hit, “Lowdown,” performed midway through the concert, to bring the audience off their seats. The familiar bass line and drumbeat that began the song had people clapping along without coaxing. Miller showed off his guitar playing skills with a brief solo. Scaggs’ fine vocals were supplemented by the harmonies of Patterson and the unique talent of Ms. Mone’t (Mone’t Owens). The song earned Scaggs and company their first standing ovation of the night. It wouldn’t be the last.
After a bouncy rendition of Fats Domino’s “Sick and Tired,” the evening was handed over to Ms. Mone’t. The fiery, sassy singer first did a call and response to Boz Scaggs’ guitar during “Miss Sun.” Her duet with Scaggs at the song’s end seemed only to make Scaggs' voice stronger.
Then Boz stepped aside, allowing Ms. Mone’t to take over. She demanded that the whole audience stand. Do you refuse Ms. Mone’t? As she might say, oh hell to the no. With everyone up, she sang her own medley, a slow version of Sly Stone’s “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” which segued into Sam and Dave’s “I Thank You,” a snippet of “Proud Mary,” and then, with the audience singing loudly along with her, back to “Thank You.” The crowd ate it up.
With the evening’s vibe now higher, Scaggs rendition of “Georgia,” seemed even more spirited than the version found on “Silk Degrees.” The regular set closer, “Lido Shuffle,” had many up, clapping and singing.
The loud ovation from the audience brought Scaggs and his band back to the stage. To open the encore, it was another familiar song from “Silk Degrees,” “What Can I Say.” But like all great concerts, the best was saved for last.
Although never a big radio hit, Scaggs’ “Loan Me A Dime,” from Scaggs’ 1969 release, “Boz Scaggs,” has become a concert staple. This was Scaggs at his bluesy best. For fifteen minutes, Scaggs and his band took the audience on a journey of blues’ craftsmanship. Logan, Scaggs and Miller all had their solo moments, with Miller’s guitar work earning applause mid-song. It was a testament to Scaggs and his band’s ability that those who had come to see “Lowdown,” and “Lido Shuffle,” didn’t move from their seats for the entire fifteen minutes of “Loan Me a Dime.”
P.T. Barnum said “always leave them wanting more.” For this evening, Scaggs certainly lived up to that saying. Hopefully that San Francisco fountain of youth will allow Scaggs to give them more for some time to come.
Set List: It All Went Down The Drain | Jojo | Mixed Up, Shook Up Girl | Some Change | Rainy Night In Georgia | Lowdown | Sick and Tired | Miss Sun | Ms. Mone’t Medley: Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)/I Thank You/Proud Mary | Georgia | Lido Shuffle| Encore: What Can I Say | Loan Me A Dime