Los Angeles Times: June 9, 1997, concert

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Junction Seven, the new album from Steve Winwood, offers the veteran English R&B-pop artist's familiar brand of upbeat, soul-inflected pop, but the hooks are slight and the production too slick. At the Roxy on Monday, Winwood and a stellar nine-piece band established an easy groove for the new songs that was far more immediate and agreeable, if still rather glossy at first.

But in a two-hour set that show-cased his entire career, the early 70-s Traffic tunes proved a powerful catalyst, spurring the players to moments of white-hot funk. Alternating between keyboards and guitar, Winwood sang with joyous ferocity and an almost shy ebullience, infusing urgency into such older solo hits as "Roll With It", as well as new tunes such as "Spy in the House of Love."

You could hear faint echoes of Traffic's bluesy art-rock in the new "Let Your Love Come Down," hinting at the musical tour de force that was to come. Proving themselves quite capable of subtlety, Winwood and the band offered a plaintive, acoustic-textured take on Blind Faith's "Can't Find My Way Home" and then the stage fairly exploded as they launched into a full-on jam with Traffic's "The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys". The players sprawled further into space with the Traffic instrumental "Glad", following up with a lively version of Sly & the Family Stone's "Family Affair".

The music was so genuinely funky by then that you barely noticed how long the obligatory band introduction went on during "Just Wanna Have Some Fun" and the musicians made the Winwood solo hit "Higher Love" fairly float about the thrilled crowd. By the time they closed with the Spencer Davis Group's "Gimme Some Lovin' ", all the gloss has been thoroughly burned away.

-- Natalie Nichols, LA Times, June 10, 1997

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Page created July 20, 1997.
Last updated July 21, 1997.
Thanks to Beth M and John L for sending me the article.
© 1997 by the author; reproduce only for non-commercial purposes and with full attribution.