Stevie Ray Vaughan says “it’s good to be alive” at his final Vancouver show

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ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JULY 26, 1990

By Steve Newton

As far as arena spectacles go, Sunday’s (July 22) Stevie Ray Vaughan/Joe Cocker double-bill was pretty lame. No huge banks of lights, fancy lasers, or explosions. But there didn’t need to be. Those who laid down bucks for the Coliseum show got their money back in spades with a solid three hours’ worth of top-class, no-frills R&B.

Cocker appeared totally at ease as he ran through old faves like “Feelin’ Alright” and “You Are So Beautiful (To Me)”, as well as more recent hits like the super-funky “Unchain My Heart”. He left the audience of 8,000 in a good mood with his historic reworking of the Beatles’ “With a Little Help from My Friends”.

Concentrating on tunes from last year’s In Step  album, Vaughan slightly riled the crowd with his first bit of showmanship—people go a little crazy when a fellow plays guitar behind his back. In a strange reversal of usual mob antics at the Coliseum, the audience on the floor barged up front during Vaughan’s mellowest song, “Riviera Paradise”, though for the most part the normally rowdy Vaughan contingent seemed relaxed.

“It’s good to be alive with you today,” announced Vaughan, who in recent years has managed to corral a life-threatening drug habit. Then he called out a couple of horn players for a stormy rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition”. As usual, Vaughan’s Double Trouble band was a steady workhorse. Now if only they could persuade Stevie’s brother Jimmy (ex-Fab Thunderbirds) to join the group.

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POSTSCRIPT: Stevie Ray Vaughan would only play six more shows before his tragic helicopter-crash death on August 27, 1990. But it sure was good to be alive with him that day.

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