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Steve Winwood - Fillmore, Detroit, 16/5/2012

  by Carl Bookstein

published: 4 / 7 / 2012

Steve Winwood - Fillmore, Detroit, 16/5/2012


Carl Bookestein watches former Spencer Davis Group and Traffic front man Setve Winwood play a career-spanning set at the Fillmore in Detroit

Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Blind Faith: former musical boy wonder of British blues, Steve Winwood’s resume is awe inspiring. Winwood, who joined the Spencer Davis Group at the age of 14, would become an architect of jazz rock as well as blue-eyed soul. On this beautiful spring night in mid May, Winwood is set to play the Fillmore Detroit, downtown in the Motor City. Bobby Long’s solo warm up act is low key and folksy with great blues-inflected vocals. In an engaging performance, he strums the guitar and plays harmonica as he sings of the dead and dying. At 8:30 p.m., Winwood and company hit the stage and commence with the Spencer Davis Group classic ‘I’m A Man’. The musicianship of this five man band is remarkable from the start. Winwood’s distinctive singing resonates and his Hammond organ wails. The tight band includes two drummers and a saxophone. The band’s performance of ‘Fly’ from Winwood’s last solo album ‘Nine Lives’ is gorgeous. Their musicianship is organic and superb like that of a great jazz band. The crowd goes crazy as Winwood and company perform a fine rendition of Blind Faith’s ‘Can’t Find My Way Home’. Winwood’s soulful vocals cut straight to the core. From newer tunes like ‘Dirty City’ to legendary Traffic material including an inspired ‘Low Spark of High Heeled Boys’ into ‘Empty Pages’, Winwood fully makes the case that his music is still relevant. With playing this good, how can it be argued? ‘Low Spark’ and ‘Empty Pages’ from the seminal 1970 Traffic album ‘John Barleycorn Must Die’ alone are worth the price of admission. Traffic’s ‘Pearly Queen’ is precise, followed by an extended ‘Light Up or Leave Me Alone’ with the band playing evocative inter-woven rhythms. The mid song jam session includes an athletic workout on conga drums. Winwood switches off between keyboards and guitar- with musical virtuosity of the highest order. His 1986 solo hit ‘Higher Love’ follows. The encore of ‘Dear Mr. Fantasy’ is brilliant followed by the Spencer Davis Group closer ‘Gimme Some Lovin’. In a night that satisfies, it is clear that legendary musical boy wonder Steve Winwood still has his chops.

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Steve Winwood - Fillmore, Detroit, 16/5/2012

Steve Winwood - Fillmore, Detroit, 16/5/2012

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