Steve Miller’s ’70s blues-rock tunes can still pack the joint

 

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photos by the newt

During his sold-out gig at Hard Rock Casino Vancouver last night, Steve Miller talked about how he moved to Chicago as a young man and learned all he could about the blues jamming with the likes of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and Buddy Guy.

That love of the blues came through loud and clear on his version of Bobby “Blue” Bland’s “Further On Up the Road”, although Miller himself wasn’t the star of that show. His dancing-machine backup singer, Sonny Charles, took lead vocals on that number and made it clear that he was the one with the whole lotta soul in da house.

But apart from being upstaged that one time, the 70-year-old Miller acquitted himself quite nicely in the rockin’ department. Call him the “Gangster of Love” or call him the “Space Cowboy”, he played both those tunes from the ’60s, but as expected focused mainly on his massively popular hits from the seventies, Fly Like an Eagle (’76) and Book of Dreams (’77).

The biggies from that era include boogie numbers like “Rock’n Me”, “Take the Money and Run”, and “Jet Airliner”, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that he also included the non-hit “Serenade”, which I’ve always thought was an overlooked gem.

The best part of the show was when Miller hit a particularly smokin’ note during the encore of “Fly Like an Eagle” and the neck of his Les Paul exploded in white light.

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That was really cool.

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