JONNY LANG, DUSTY RHODES AND THE RIVER BAND, Red Butte Garden Amphitheater, Tuesday
They may applaud the band, but Tuesday night's crowd at Red Butte came for the star.
Thankfully, Jonny Lang gave listeners everything they expected. He delivered at least a half-dozen jaw-dropping guitar solos, played mostly crowd favorites, and kept the audience entertained for almost two hours.
Disappointingly, he did not do much more than expected. And with his last new album released two years ago, no fresh material could be sprinkled into the set to differentiate it from his last show at Red Butte, in 2006.
Still, watching Lang is like watching Tom Brady, Barry Bonds or Kobe Bryant, because the crowd is there as much for the scene-stealing highlights as it is for the entirety of the concert. In Lang's case, those highlights generally come when he steps away from microphone, assumes his Rock God stance and lets rip on a solo that like any great guitarist's is instantly identifiable.
The best of those came during the final song, "Lie to Me," a searing blues classic that turned into a raucous, howling instrumental stomp by the end. Other, almost equally impressive solos were unleashed during "A Quitter Never Wins" and "One Person at a Time."
While the crowd seemed to most appreciate his guitar work, it was actually his subtler moments that were his best. That included the almost hushed "Breakin' Me" and the best song of the night, a slowed-down "Red Light" that ended with a reggae vibe.
Sadly, after "Red Light" and the follow-up song, "Livin' for the City," really brought the crowd to the feet, Lang took a puzzling and ill-advised break from the stage while the band noodled through a basically boring interlude. That was followed by two songs, the last of which, "I Am," became an extended opportunity for each band member to solo. While they are all expert musicians in their own right, they are not Lang, and their solos seemed to do nothing more than prepare people for the end of the show.
Still, although he only played 13 songs, Lang seemed to give the crowd everything it wanted. Nothing more, but it satisfied.Opener Dusty Rhodes and the River Band definitely got the crowd's attention, both with their hybrid of cowpunk, funk and classic rock and their stage presence. While talented, enjoyable and different, they also seemed as much Tenacious D as the group they seemed to idolize, The Band.