CONTENT AND PHOTOS © DANIEL GLUSKOTER
If Boz Scaggs’ Tuesday night concert at the Marin Center was something of a victory lap for the 69 year old singer-songwriter, the long-time Bay Area native and Napa winemaker doesn’t show any signs of slowing down or resting on his laurels.
Still sporting a strong voice well into his fifth decade as a performer, Scaggs consistently engaged the sold out crowd with personalized introductions to each song. Many were recognizable from their earliest notes, only to be received by an all-too-reserved response from an audience that remained seated for most of the night, seemingly unaware that it’s not a crime to stand up or dance during energetic numbers.
Supplemented by a five-man backing-band and the soulful Monet Owens on vocals, Scaggs is on the second leg of touring in support of his latest release, last year’s stunning “Memphis.” His first studio album in nearly five years pays tribute to that city’s fine musical tradition, featuring nearly all covers, while blending R&B, Jazz and showcasing his beautiful, iconic voice.
Opening with the catchy “JoJo” from 1980s “Middle Man,” Scaggs managed to perform five songs from his latest effort without sacrificing the feel or vibe of what was essentially a greatest hits set. It also featured the same number of songs from his break thru 1976 release “Silk Degrees” which sold over five million copies at the start of his commercial peak that lasted thru the early ’80s and featured a series of hit singles and platinum-selling albums.
The show really took off at the mid way point with the introduction of “Georgia” and its harmonious melodies, prior to Owens first introducing her influence on “Miss Sun” and taking the lead on Sly & the Family Stone’s classic “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin),” finally bringing the laid back audience to life and infusing energy into the crowd which previously seemed to find standing or dancing taboo.
That led to a mellow, yet jazzy, performance of “Harbor Lights,” before the unforgettable “Lowdown” and “Lido Shuffle” brought the set to a close. Returning to the stage with “What Can I Say,” the band bid adieu to most with a blistering 20 minute rendition of the blues classic “Loan Me A Dime,” from his 1969 debut album. Still not ready to say good night, the remnants of the home-town crowd were treated to a second encore featuring Fats Domino’s “I’m Sick and Tired of Fooling’ Around With You,” introduced by Scaggs as a “New Orleans love song” before closing the two hour show with the energetic “Breakdown Dead Ahead.”
The Memphis tour continues thru February 22 in Park City before taking a seven week break prior to traveling to Australia for six shows. Returning to the States to play the New Orleans JazzFest on April 26, Scaggs will then perform a series of shows on the East Coast before wrapping up the tour on July 16 at the Hollywood Bowl.