Kansas City Star: Nov 4, 1997

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Steve Winwood serves up hits from his long career

Steve Winwood's current "Junction Seven" tour could be dubbed the "more bang for your buck" show. The concert before a sparse but rabid following Wednesday night at the Midland Theatre was in support of the singer/instrumentalist's current solo album. But with a history that stretches back over three decades and more classic rock bands than you can count, Winwood's concerts take on a bit of a time capsule feel.

Thankfully, the veteran rocker hasn't fallen victim to the embalmed oldies trap that afflicts many artists of his era. Winwood's work remains vibrant, calling on the best traditions of jazz, rhythm and blues and rock while emerging with a wholly original sound.

The singer was strong out of the gate with the classic "I'm a Man," a hard rocker from his days with the Spencer Davis Group that found Winwood leading an unusually cohesive group of nine musicians from his seat behind the keyboard. Following an infectiously up-tempo "Roll With It," Winwood switched to guitar for "It's All on You." (Note: The reviewer must have meant "While You See a Chance". --BG) The classic overachiever, Winwood played all the instruments on his vintage "Arc of a Diver" album in 1981. Though he can't quite pull off that feat in concert, he divides his time nicely between keyboards and guitars.

A spate of new material from the current "Junction Seven" disc revealed that the singer hadn't strayed far from his rhythm-and-blues roots. "Angel of Mercy" was the quintessential blue-eyed soul tune, mixing a strong rhythm line with a soulful undercurrent. "Spy in the House of Love" cranked up the energy level with its muscular guitar line, while "Let Your Love Come Down" occupied a middle ground between rock and soul. The highlight of Winwood's current offerings was unquestionably "Gotta Get Back to My Baby," an irresistible brass- and percussion-driven tune which floats on a Caribbean wave of musical sunshine.

Winwood offered keyboard themes and variations on an extended "Don't You Know What the Night Can Do," which was followed by a percussive, up-tempo reading of "The Finer Things."

-- Robert Eisele - Contributing Reviewer

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Page created December 22, 1997.
Last updated December 22, 1997.
© 1997 by the author; reproduce only for non-commercial purposes and with full attribution.