Two beloved septuagenarians brought their enduring music to Meijer Gardens on Thursday night for a sold-out concert that covered a lot of musical ground. Review and photo gallery.
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It was a double-header Thursday night at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park with Keb’ Mo’ and Boz Scaggs delivering an abundance of musical moods, from yacht rock to jazz to disco, and of course, every hue of the blues.
At 79, Boz Scaggs has been around awhile, but his unmistakable, reedy tenor unfurls as dreamy and engaging as ever. “JoJo,” his 1980 hit, got people grooving to the sounds of yesteryear, suffused with a silky sax solo — sort of jazzy, sort of disco, and uniquely Boz.
From this crowd-pleaser, Scaggs smoothly slid into a newer tune, “The Feeling is Gone,” which may be only four years old, but dovetailed nicely with plenty of his bluesy deep cuts. While not chatty on stage, Scaggs did mention a hero of his (as well as that of Keb’ Mo’), Bobby “Blue” Bland.
After covering blues and jazz, he sailed away with 1976’s “Harbor Lights,” one of his signature yacht rock gems that had fans swinging gently in the setting sun. Fans greated “Lowdown,” his giant hit, also on the multi-platinum 1976 album “Silk Degrees,” with excitement, with many dancing the night away.
“Look What You’ve Done to Me” followed, a soulful ballad full of wistfulness and featuring the prettiest piano by Michael Logan.
But then came “Lido Shuffle” for the crowd to jump up and down to. The boisterous disco jam got fans up on their feet, enthralled by that luscious shuffle beat.
Ever the gracious showman, Scaggs thanked his superb bandmates multiple times, including Logan, Teddy Campbell on drums, Willie Weeks on bass and Mike Miller on guitar. Branlie Mejias’s innovative percussion – featuring tambourine and wooden blocks and all manner of percussive sound makers – stood out as exceptional in an already impressive musical lineup.
Performing ahead of Scaggs: the artist born Kevin Roosevelt Moore. Keb’ Mo’ offered fans a mournful slice of that “Government Cheese” before pronouncing the venue smaller in size but “larger in attitude.”
The 71-year-old artist’s attitude seemed joyful, despite the variegated shades of blue coloring his songs.
“Life is Beautiful” celebrated the goodness of a long-term love; “Good to Be (Home Again)” oozed contentment, while “Suitcase” warned of heavy baggage in a relationship. Despite the pessimistic lyrics, that song went down nice and easy, especially when Mo’ played his shiny silver tricone resonator guitar, drawing oohs and aahs from the crowd.
The smiling bluesman ended the set with “The Worst is Yet to Come,” with its colorful “life is terrible” lyrics (“Lord have mercy, Even the bedbugs up and run”). Yet in the hands of the radiant Mo,’ one got the feeling that even the bedbugs would sort themselves out in the end.
How could they not? Keb’ Mo’ is a treasure, beguiling the audience with his winsome ways. With any luck, he’ll come back to Meijer Gardens yet again, toting his “suitcase” full of blues-lit pop charms.
PHOTO GALLERY: Boz Scaggs, Keb’ Mo’ at Meijer Gardens
Photos by Joshua Tufts