July 19, 2016
On a hot Sunday summer night in the Queen City, Steve Miller transported us back in time the only way a rock ‘n’ roll Hall of Famer can. Under a near full moon, the Steve Miller Band with opener Elonzo Wesley rocked the Uptown amphitheater. The crowd, a mix of empty nesters reliving the glory days and younger rock fans cheersing their beer to a legend, were treated to a powerhouse show, complimented by a phenomenal encore.
The Steve Miller Band, known for their hits in the ‘70s and ‘80s, stopped in Charlotte as part of their Summer tour celebrating Steve Miller’s recent induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The singer, humbled and outright excited about his induction, took a few minutes during the show to reflect on the award and express his want to use the honor for good. In a recent interview with Howard Stern, the singer stated that he planned to look into the Hall’s charity spendings and ensure the funds were being spent properly. At the show he simply emphasized that music is a great tool for aiding education and helping the world. Rock on.
The band last went on tour in 2014 with Journey and will end their current tour with them along with Santana and the Doobie Brothers in San Francisco in September. Current band members on tour include: Kenny Lee Lewis (bass and who was mysteriously absent), Gordy Knudtson (drums), Joseph Wooten (keyboards) and Jacob Petersen (rhythm guitar).
The night started out with the opener Elonzo Wesley, a singer-songwriter by the name of Jeremy Davis who is originally from Summerville, South Carolina and now resides in Charlotte. Davis has been a staple in the local music scene with his band Elonzo in recent years, and the local musician performed as a one-man band singing songs about love and loss with his winsome guitar and harmonica. The crowd applauded the melodic sound as a cool breeze created an idyllic Carolina summer night.
After the opening act, the laid back atmosphere shifted as the stage moved from housing one man with a guitar and harmonica to a powerhouse band complete with drums, guitars, keyboards and, at one point, even a harmonica.
The band came out, colored lights strobed all over the place, and the crowd was electrified. The show started with a psychedelic feel, highlighting the band’s acid rock phase. Then, Steve Miller took a moment to reflect on his time at Fillmore in San Francisco where he “listened to amazing music every night of the week” and was especially inspired by Santana, a heavy influence on the song “Shu Ba Da Du Ma Ma Ma Ma,” which he played next. The crowd went wild for the song, welcoming not only the upbeat change in pace, but also the funky beat and playful lyrics. The band grooved out and Steve Miller laid down some of his signature guitar riffs.
At about the middle of the show, Steve let the everyone know that some people call him the Space Cowboy. An eruption of cheers was paired with a chorus of off key singing (from the crowd not the band). They played adding in few extra synthesized sound effects.
The incredible light show was taken out of this world when the backdrop illuminated like the night sky, while Steve Miller shredded on the guitar under the spotlights. The spotlights then expanded to the rest of the band as they began to play one of their most famous songs “Fly like an Eagle.” The performance of the song was elevated by the phenomenal backup vocals from both Joseph Wooten on the keyboards and Jacob Peterson on guitar.
Older fans sang along to almost every song while most just joined in to the classics like “Joker.” No matter what involvement each fan had throughout the show, one thing was clear: when the lights went out and the band walked off, they all wanted more. Forgetting work, and Monday’s other responsibilities the crowd hooted and hollered until the band walked back out. “Do you all want another song?!” Steve asked. “Then let me hear you say ‘yeah!’” Everyone responded and the band delivered not one, but three more songs including “Swing Town” and “Jet Airliner.” The crowd was overjoyed.
It was unclear who wanted to continue more: Steve or the crowd. His energy was contagious. It was clear he was in his element doing what he love and crushing it, the true sign of an absolute legend.
The high powered encore ended with Steve bringing out Les Paul (who, fun fact, is actually his godfather) for one last jam before throwing his second and last guitar pick out into the crowd.
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