|Sun-Sentinel: Sept. 22, 1997, concert|
"Stevie" to his fans, British rock patriarch Steve Winwood opened his latest North American tour with a time-tripping, two-hour performance at the Broward Center for Performing Arts' Au-Rene Theatre on Friday.
The seemingly ageless, aquiline Winwood, 49, is touring behind Junction Seven, his seventh solo record since completing one of rock's most prolific, one-man runs: Winwood was, between 1963 and 1974, a key member of the soul-scorching Spencer Davis Group, the avant-rock ensemble Traffic, and the one-off supergroup, Blind Faith.
Junction Seven, a decent, if comparatively unremarkable new album of polished r&b pop, very much along the lines of Winwood's solo hits, furnished a few of the 18-sonog set's stronger moments. A slip-into-something-cozy cover of Sly and the Family Stone's "Family Affair" recommended itself as a great second single for the new album.
But the evening's highlights indisputably belonged to, well, the highlights: The 10-piece band exulted in the standards that have elevated Winwood to his place in the pop aristocracy.
Accordingly, the baby-boom crowd that filled most of the Au-Rene's 2800 seats saved its loudest, most exuberantly response for these classics: the solo gems, "Roll With It," "While You See a Chance," "Freedom Overspill," "Higher Love" and "Back in the High Life," Blind Faith's acoustic plaint, "Can't Find My Way Home," and a 17-minute excursion through Traffic's jazz-rock opus, "Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys".
Winwood bookended the set with Spencer Davis Group hits, opening with the single, seventh-chord punch of "I'm a Man" and finishing the encores with "Gimme Some Lovin'", whose octave-bouncing bass riff and rippling organ sounded pretty terrific being reclaimed from a thousand wedding bands and college-football marching troupes. After 30-plus years in performance, Winwood - sort of a blue-eyed Marvin Gaye with a similarly pealing voice - still brings range and relevancy to his songs.
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Last updated August 25, 1999.
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