STEVE MILLER BAND AND JOE COCKER, USANA Amphitheatre, Wednesday
WEST VALLEY CITY Attending a Steve Miller Band concert is as comfortable as slipping on a pair of comfortable blue jeans.
Miller and his band of traveling musicians don't need crazy pyrotechnics, giant video screens with raunchy videos, outrageous costumes or and elaborate stage. All they need is a place to play. And that's what they did Wednesday night at the USANA Amphitheatre.
Miller reached deep into his 40-year career and pulled out some surprises and, of course, some expected hits.
The earliest song and most surprising tune in the band's rep was the 1968 tune "Space Cowboy." The latest songs were cover songs that will appear on the Steve Miller Band's upcoming CD this fall.
Those songs included Bo Diddley's "You Pretty Thing" and Jimmy Vaughan's "Hey, You."
Still, with extended blues jams and some from-the-hip improvisation, Miller and his band brought the songs to life with a looseness that complemented the swampy style.
While the audience dug what Miller did with the covers, sung by new band member Sonny Charles, it was the vintage SMB hits for which the fans waited.
"Rockin' Me," "Jet Airliner" and the country tinged "Dance Dance Dance" caused some of the loudest cheers of the night.
Opening with "Swingtown" and continuing through "Seranade" and "Livin' In the U.S.A.," which was dedicated to the Armed Forces, Miller clad by the way in blue jeans and a black shirt gave a fun, casual and catchy performance.
The pop-rock of "Abracadabra," the blues of "The Stake" and the grooviness of "Shu Ba Da Du Ma Ma Ma Ma" opened the way for "Mercury Blues" and "Oomp Oomp Badoo."
And with nothing but the music and his still-strong voice, Miller was worth every penny of admission.
However, the addition of Joe Cocker to open the show, upped all antes.
The English blues and soul man looked and sounded great for his 64 years.
"When the Night Comes," along with his spell-casting trademark ballad "You Are so Beautiful" and his comeback ballad "Up Where We Belong," the man, who feels the music throughout his body, gave it his all.
Cocker-ized remakes of the Lovin' Spoonful's "Summer in the City," the Beatles' "Come Together" and his own "Unchain My Heart" and, of course, his big-band treatment of the Beatles' "With a Little Help from My Friends" were flawless and full of passion.
There was so much passion in the set that when the Steve Miller Band stepped on stage, each band member, as well as the audience, knew they had to play better than usual.
And they did.
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