Written by Eddie Ferranti
Nov 28, 2012 at 08:00 PM
Image“Is the smokiness in the building supposed to make us feel like we’re at a ‘real’ concert?!”

That was the line Rose and I heard not five minutes into the Steve Winwood’s set at Bayou Music Center. Well, to answer that, I’d say it was a damn real concert for sure, albeit not filled with the smoke the mature woman was referring to!

We’d never had the pleasure to catch Winwood before and were hoping he’d step back to his killer jam band ways, ala Traffic and Blind Faith. Major YES on that! Accompanied by a fourpiece backing band, Winwood barely spoke to the crowd, but took us trippin’, if you will, through his more-than-forty-year career with unabashed spirit and vibe.

From the opening chestnut “I’m A Man,” he signaled to the audience that it was going to be tilted heavy to the ‘vintage music,’ as he referred to it, to the dismay of no one in the pro-baby boomer lot. Winwood stuck behind his Hammond B-3 for most of the night, but when he strapped on the electric he showed off a fluid style on smokin’ psychedelic “Can’t Find My Way Back Home” and his mandolin pickin’ on intro to “Back in the High Life Again” ruled.

It was amzing how a gig evolved without a real bass player and had a heavy infusion of rock, jazz and tons of soul stirred up by the front and center wind instrument playing of Mr. Paul Booth. Guy played a sax, flute and clarinet type instrument to sky rocketing perfection which was complimented by the drumming of Richard Bailey. Winwood was in fine voice and the band got a hold of every song and squeezed it to heavenly peaks. Raucous and appreciative do not quite describe the ovations for gems like “Low Spark of High Heeled Boys”, “Empty Pages”, killer newer one “Dirty City” with Winwood jammin’ on guitar, goose bumper “Higher Love” and an elongated version of “Light Up or Leave Me Alone” that showcased the riff magic of Jose’ Neto.

The whole night was a no frills testimony of unforced let’s-get-it-on jamming amongst a tight knit crew which came to a boil on the encore of Winwood’s guitar magic during “Dear Mr.Fantasy” and the get up and boogie dance number “Gimme Some Lovin'”! I grew up in the ’70’s and embraced all the marvelous talent from that era, but never quite caught onto Winwood’s bandwagon, especially since I kind of was turned off by the yuppie type crooner MTV era stuff he put out solo.

A night like this erased all that and the man gave me what I came for and that was a trip back to some more REAL music that has no equal in today’s manufactured slop.  At 64, he did himself proud and the crowd of 1500 or so who made it out went home humming something from their past that is still with them today Thank God…Keep on enjoying the HIGH life my friends!