Steve Winwood is one of my musical heroes. For me, after the Beatles, it’s Winwood and Eric Clapton. If that was all the music I could ever listen to, I’d be okay with just those three.
I’ve been listening to Winwood for close to 50 years. It started in 1966, with Gimme Some Lovin and it has never stopped. I still like to call him Stevie.
So when Stevie..errr..Steve has a gig in my area, chances are I’m there. I’ve seen him with Traffic, solo and with Eric Clapton. Some of his shows have been spectacular, others not so great: but what they all do is bring back great memories.
Winwood likes to play what he calls “vintage” music. You hear songs from different eras and it’s easy to remember where you were and what you were doing at those times.
When I hear the Spencer Davis songs, I can remember the Junior High years. Traffic reminds me of high school and college. I still have no idea what Low Spark of High Heeled Boys is about but I remember my sophomore year in college pretty clearly. I can remember buying the record that had the funky shaped album cover.
I can remember taking my future ex-wife to a Winwood concert during the Roll With It tour and when Traffic had it’s reunion tour in 1994, my children were just babies. They’re now adults.
So when I saw Steve Winwood last night, at the Chicago Theater, I wasn’t sure about how the show would be but I knew I would remember a lot of great things.
The show itself was just okay. The sound was pretty bad. For the first few songs, the bass was so loud that it drowned out the other instruments. That’s pretty amazing considering there isn’t a bass player in the band and Winwood plays it with the organ foot pedals.
Winwood’s voice isn’t what it used to be. He struggles with the high notes. That’s understandable considering he’s now 66 years old.
However, he’s got a really good five piece band that’s been together for a long time and they’re pretty tight. Steve is still one of the greatest organ players and a very underrated guitarist.
The songs are pretty much what you expect. It opens with Pearly Queen from the early Traffic days, some Blind Faith with Can’t Find My Way Home, a few from his solo career including Higher Love and Dirty City and the traditional encore of Dear Mr. Fantasy and Gimme Some Lovin.
But when you leave you aren’t just thinking about the music, you’re thinking about your life, the people you’ve known and the places you’ve been over the last five decades.
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