Monday, February 17, 2014

CONCERT REVIEW: Jonny Lang (2.15.14)

Maxwell C. King Center
Melbourne, FL (2.15.14)

By Florida standards,
the 40° temperatures
outdoors were arctic.
However, Jonny Lang's
brand of red-hot, rockin' 
blues kept the sold-out
King Center crowd
nice and toasty indoors.

Currently criss-crossing the country promoting his latest record, Fight for My Soul, the veteran singer / songwriter / guitarist journeyed to the "Sunshine State" this past weekend for the second time in just three months.

Along with his four-piece band, Jonny Lang took the King Center stage at 8pm and immediately kicked 'em where it counts with "Blew up the House," the opening track from his latest release.

JONNY LANG - 2.15.14
(Photo: Michelle Wilson)
Although on paper, Lang's eight-song set list was a Xerox of his recent West Palm Beach concert, tonight's show felt fresh. And the undeniable sweet fragrance of bona fide blues stank permeated the theater.

Switching up throughout the show between an amber-colored Gibson Les Paul and a smoked-finish Fender Telecaster, the 33-year-old guitar ace rocked the crowd of 2,000 with a mighty 75-minute, career spanning set.

Akil Thompson
(Photo: Christopher Long)
A master of dynamics, Lang brought fans to their feet during "Don't Stop (For Anything)," only to elicit near deafening silence during  the Bob Marley-inspired "everything is gonna be alright"  interlude in "Red Light."

"A Quitter Never Wins," from Lang's 1997 Lie to Me record, as well as the title track from his 2006 Turn Around album provided just a few of the show's other countless highlights.

As for his band, the cast of seasoned pros included a couple of new faces. Guitarist Akil Thompson and drummer Barry Alexander were both with Lang during his last romp through Florida. But this time around, the troupe was rounded out by bassist Sonny Thompson and keyboardist Charles Jones.

Barry Alexander
(Photo: Christopher Long)
Lang's cover of Stevie Wonder's "Livin' For the City" always is a concert favorite. However, the addition of Jones' extended spirited, funky solo, made the 1973 classic particularly memorable.

But beyond his impressive chops, soulful voice and super-charged songs, what sets Lang apart from the blues pack is his message — one that's far greater than the typical "sex, booze & F-bombs" mantra offered by his contemporaries.

Clearly a young man of tremendous faith, Lang is a beacon of shining light onstage — not only through his positive music, but also by how he connects with his audience. And there is perhaps no better example of that light than in the lyrics of the concert staple, "That Great  Day," a choice track from Turn Around.

"And when He appears 
to wipe all our tears 
forever away, then 
we'll be together in 
Heaven forever.
On that great day.
On that great day."
-Jonny Lang 
(from "That Great Day")

As the set began winding down, Lang was still revving up, and he once again brought the audience to their feet with 1998's down and dirty "Angel of Mercy."

-Christopher Long
(February 2014)

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