Friday, August 8, 2008

He's still "The Gangster of Love"

I recently had the pleasure of a day filled with amazing music at Merriweather Post Pavilion performed by Joe Cocker and The Steve Miller Band. I saw these legendary performers on MPT during its June pledge drive, and when noticed on MPT’s local events calendar that tickets were available, I knew I had to get them.

It began late afternoon with a glimpse into the inner-workings of a big-name band at sound check. We heard the familiar sounds of The Steve Miller Band as we walked to the concert arena. The only other folks around were diligently working to prepare for the evening concert. As we took our seats and tried not to appear overly zealous, we saw that Steve Miller was not yet on stage—but the riffs being played got our blood pumping. Quickly and without fanfare, Steve Miller appeared on stage, picked up his guitar and began to play. To see him this way—as a regular guy preparing for his “job”—was impressive. He tweaked the sound coming from his guitar over and over, he spoke to the sound man with authority but without condescension. He knew what he wanted and expected, but did it with respect for the others involved. It was refreshing to see in a world dominated by divas.

As quickly as he appeared, he disappeared. Our private concert was over. We departed for dinner and twittered about what we saw, reliving the “good old days” and feeling as if we had taken a walk back to our youth. We were eager to return for the concert.

As concert time drew near, we were psyched to hear The Steve Miller Band but knew that Joe Cocker was the opening act. We anticipated enjoying his music, but deep down wanted to hear more of what we heard in the afternoon. We couldn’t have been more wrong! Joe Cocker brought the house down. From “With a Little Help From My Friends” to “Feelin’ Alright” to “Cry Me a River,” he did them all and never missed a note or his signature big voice. He had everyone’s attention. When he sang “You Are So Beautiful,” the house was on its feet and screaming. He’s still got it and The Steve Miller Band needed to step up to the plate so they wouldn't be outdone.

And they did not disappoint. They began with “Swingtown” and kept going. It seemed as if each song required a different guitar, including a bright red Flying V that Steve proudly told the crowd he won at a poker game just a few nights earlier.

Those of us there had the joy of hearing two hours of music that included “Space Cowboy,” “Jungle Love,” “Dance, Dance, Dance” and so many more. “Mercury Blues,” an oldie but goody, was well received. “Rock ‘n Me” was played for quite a stretch and the guitars were wailing.

Sonny Charles, formerly of the Checkmates, has joined the band and added a fine voice and fine dancing. He sang a Bo Diddley song, “Pretty Thing,” with accompaniment from Miller that was a true get-out-of-your-seat-and-dance moment.

The harmonica playing was amazing; the guitar playing knocked your socks off; the keyboard playing was more than lively; and the drumming held it all together. These guys are GOOD!

After all was said and done, the evening ended with three encores – the third with Steve Miller taking requests. When was the last time you saw that?

In the end, Steve reminded us to live in peace and love. The years have passed but some things never change. And for that I am grateful.

Sue Vanskiver
Senior Administrative Assistant

1 comment:

SMB Fans said...

Thanks for posting this story!! We enjoyed reading it!! Cheers!! Steve Miller Band Fans: