Wednesday, June 11, 2014

CONCERT REVIEW: Keb' Mo' - 6.7.14 (Guest Post)

CONCERT REVIEW
Keb’ Mo’
The Plaza Live
Orlando, FL  (6.7.14)
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Michelle Wilson returns
with another amazing
live concert review. She
could have submitted 
this one to any of a
number of publications,
hence, I'm thrilled and
honored that she gave
me first dibs. Enjoy!
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Once in a while, there comes a show that encompasses everything that’s right in the world of today’s music. Keb’ Mo’ offered such a blessed gift to me on my birthday, so happy birthday to me indeed! Hot on the heels of his first sold-out stance at the intimate, 1000-seat Plaza Live the evening before, this masterful storyteller combined a mix of humorous anecdotes, rich, gritty, soulful vocals and incredible guitar work, offering the nearly sold-out crowd two fluid hours of nonstop folksy, roots rock and blues that left me wanting four more hours of it.
Beginning promptly at 8pm, Keb’ graced the stage in his signature all black ensemble including suit vest and trademark hat. Alternating among acoustic, electric and resonating Dobro slide guitar, Keb’ was accompanied by keyboardist Kevin So, drummer Casey Wasner (who also co-produced Keb’s latest release, Blues Americana, along with Keb’) and multi-instrumentalist, Tom Shinness. An accomplished player in his own right, Shinness deftly enthralled the audience with his skillful artistry on electric guitar, mandolin, cello (which he played with bow and strummed in guitar fashion) and harpguitar. Shinness was captivating as he played this last fascinating instrument, which, as Keb’ explained to us, is a vintage 16 string Gibson made in 1913 and has ten bass strings.

Performing 15 songs and three additional encores spanning eight different records, Keb’ kicked it all off with “Everything I Need” from 1998’s Grammy-winning Slow Down, also performing “Henry” off this album. Keep It Simple, also a Grammy-garnering collection from 2004, was spotlighted with the vocally seductive “Closer,” as well as the humorous “Shave Yo’ Legs” and the cello-featured “France."
Touching upon his newest record, the 2014 release, Blues Americana, the seasoned blues singer delighted the crowd with “Somebody Hurt You” and the honest, poignant “The Old Me Better.” As great as his new material is, I was pleased that he didn’t dedicate the night mainly to that music as some artists are prone to do, but offered a perfect mix of older and newer sounds.

With another beautifully inspired acoustic performance including mandolin accompaniment, Keb’ crooned out “Life Is Beautiful” off 2006’s Suitcase as well as the fun “Rita,” switching to electric guitar on “The Itch” from the same album and featuring Shinness strumming the cello. Still focusing on this album and shifting to Dobro slide and harmonica, Keb’ performed the title cut “Suitcase.”

About halfway through the show, Keb’ kept it going in typical hilarious fashion with “Government Cheese” from 2009’s Live & Mo’. Ever the raconteur, he explained that he wrote it while visiting his sister-in-law in Minneapolis. Apparently, this was the cue for Keb’s wife, Robbie Brooks Moore, to come on stage at the song’s conclusion and “surprise” him with a cake to commemorate his 20-year anniversary in the music business. This was a real show-stopping highlight. I felt honored to be a part of that celebration, and the feel-good moment brought the crowd to its feet in ebullient applause.

It’s difficult to pinpoint favorites from the show since everything was stellar, but here are a few of the pieces that may have stepped it up a notch, if that’s even possible. “Every Morning” from the self-titled record, Keb’ Mo’, the one that got it all started back in 1994 under the “Keb’ Mo’” moniker, showcased incomparable vocals and killer Dobro. “The Whole Enchilada,” a super-fun, energized tune that graces the Grammy-nominated “The Reflection” from 2011 and the uber-bluesy, jazz-infused “Dangerous Mood” off Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues: Keb’ Mo' also had the crowd reeled in.

But it was the three encores, and in particular, the last song of the night, that finished this show off in highest form. All three hailed from the first record, including “Angelina,” “She Just Wants to Dance” and finally, an absolutely off the chain version of “City Boy” with gorgeous vocals and doleful, haunting cello that sent chills up my spine and left an otherwise interactive audience enraptured and soundless.
Admittedly, this was my first Keb’ Mo’ live experience. I know for certain that it will not be my last. Witty, talented, engaging, and all-around entertaining, this event was phenomenal from beginning to end. If you have the opportunity and Keb’ Mo’ is playing a venue in your area, GO! You will not be disappointed.
Look for my review of Blues Americana in the coming weeks at www.ink19.com.
 -Michelle Wilson
(June 2014)
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1 comment:

  1. We saw Keb' in San Diego and it was an awesome show!!! He always does a great job! Love you Mr. Mo'!!!
    Liz

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