Kenny Loggins June 24, 2011 at Indian Ranch, Webster, Mass.
Kenny's new trio Blue Sky Riders open the show - read more here
Kenny Loggins proved beyond a doubt why he's one of the most-loved performers in music with a generously-long set which took concertgoers to the far corners of his musical imagination then celebrated them home.
After opening with his new trio, Blue Sky Riders (read review), on this misty night outdoors, Loggins began the journey into his soul with two of his oldest songs then worked his way to the present, starting folky, getting to his early rock then progressing to his fully-developed, textured later material that featured dynamic vocals, sizzling guitar rock and a variety of styles, all showing the writer’s sensitive heart, which he’s always worn on his sleeve.
He began with the much-loved favorite, Danny’s Song, (“even though we ain’t got money / I’m so in love with you honey …”) and the crowd just naturally wanted to sing along.Then it was Back To Pooh Corner, and he explained that the two songs "were written when I was a senior in high school.I was supposed to be studying for finals, but I was in my bedroom writing these songs.”
Introducing Whenever I Call You Friend, Loggins gave a shout-out to Stevie Nicks, with whom he partnered on the 1978 hit, reminding us that Fleetwood Mac, at the peak of their popularity, asked him to tour with them as their opening act. For his new solo career after his success with Loggins & Messina, it was a real shot in the arm. (Though one must be careful about saying "70s-era Fleetwood Mac” and “a shot in the arm” in the same sentence.Yikes.)
Reaching back into his days with Jim Messina to break out their biggest smash, Your Mama Don’t Dance, Loggins related that his earliest musical influences came from his older brothers, one who liked early rock ‘n roll and the other who was into R&B.So he wound some of those influences into a medley with Mama, including the Coasters’ Youngblood, Aretha’s Chain of Fools, and even playfully threw in a little bit of Prince’s Kiss, showing a hint of the great falsetto he would use to great effect later.
After this opening sweep, Kenny went in a new direction, staying with the L&M songbook but breaking it wide open by picking up his electric guitar and ripping into Angry Eyes with lead guitarist Scott Bernard getting his first chance to show off his chops.Bernard thrashed mightily and Loggins joined him for some nifty twin-guitar riffing.
Returning to acoustic, he reflected on the genesis of his 1979 smash, This Is It, written with friend Michael McDonald, explaining that he had just a few snippets of lyrics written, including “you think that maybe it’s over, only if you want it to be,” but couldn’t complete the tune.Then, after visiting his ailing father in the hospital, he realized that it was not a love song, but a life song. Or, “it was about the NBA playoffs,” he joked, referring to how it later became the TV theme for the hoops tournament.He played his “Redwoods version,” the one he arranged for the Redwoods Cruise in California; not the familiar, cool-jazz groove, but a totally deconstructed version that’s just as powerful, with drummer Tommy Brechtlein starting out on congas then getting back behind the skins to beef it up as Loggins’ vocal soared.The song ended to a thundering ovation.The concert was hitting its stride, or to keep with Loggins’ cycling passion, we had crested a hill and were speeding down the other side.
drummer Tommy Brechtlein, guitarist Scott Bernard and bassist/keyboardist Shem von Schroeck
He did The Real Thing, a song originally intended for his daughter, Bella’s, christening, but after starting to write it he put it off and then returned to it with help of the legendary David Foster who he called “a good friend.”It was a powerful and personal piece.Celebrate Me Home began calmly with just Shem von Schroeck’s keyboard accompaniment, just beautiful, then the rest of the band joined in and it turned into a full-blown masterpiece, with Brechtlein pounding and Bernard’s guitar wailing; then they reeled it back in for Loggins’ soft falsetto and scat vocal.He and Bernard played an amusing cat-and-mouse game of call-and-response with scat vocal and wah-wah guitar, then Loggins ventured into an adoring crowd that was singing along.The opus ended with a second standing ovation.And we hadn’t even gotten to the movie hits yet.
He ventured into I’ll Wait For You, with another heart-tugging falsetto passage over its guitar groove that then took a compelling detour into a moody, jazz-heavy atmospheric interlude where the star generously let his young guitar wünderkind stretch out again in yet another jam that was totally WOW-inducing.
At the end of it, the crowd was gasping like after an incredible orgasm. A few started desperately shouting out song titles. “Speaking of movie songs …” Loggins quipped, then ripped into the electric I’m Alright, the theme from Caddyshack, with the other band members playfully chirping in with the various vocal lines.Guitarist Bernard went absolutely ape-shit again and as everyone was up and dancing wildly, I couldn’t help but smirk thinking about the research I’d done earlier in the week, reading about Kenny being described as “adult contemporary” or “soft rock” like they confused him with Kenny G or Yanni or Zamfir and his pan flute.(Actually, Kenny G concerts are pretty wild affairs, but that’s another story).But I knew better, having seen Loggins twice before; his ability to go from extremes of the musical spectrum and to rock out are well-known to this writer.
Conviction Of The Heart closed the show with criss-crossed spotlights silhouetting the star in the steady mist and Blue Sky Riders bandmates Georgia Middleman and Gary Burr joining in on backup vocals.
But there had to be an encore!A Kenny Loggins concert without Danger Zone from Top Gun or Footloose?No way!And that’s exactly what he delivered in a rousing encore as the crowd went bonkers to these danceable rockers.
But we demanded even more.The poor guy, who had not only sung his heart and lungs out but had actually opened his own show with the Blue Sky Riders set, obliged with a second encore that began with “one of the first songs I learned to play,” a blazing rendition of Cream’s Crossroads.Then, so very gently, cooing to us with just the piano behind him, he had one last gift for us, Forever In My Heart, aptly closing this outstanding show. The atmosphere was still electric.
“It was awesome, an awesome show!” said Tom and Maureen from nearby Woodstock, Connecticut.“Great!Very good!” exclaimed Fred Findland who traveled from Maine to see the concert.“He gave an awful lot.It was a great show.”“It was great, we loved him!”gushed Eileen from Marlborough, Mass., who attended with her friend, Barbara, from Hyde Park.“It was a good show,” agreed Ken LaSalle from Woonsocket, RI, “and a great venue.”
And so it was.From all over New England we came to experience this night and the music of this incredibly giving artist.