Sep 11, 2012

Party like it’s 1979

Steve Miller Band and Dave Mason at the 2012 Illinois State Fair

First, I must give credit to my friend Kent Argenta, who was also in attendance at this concert, for coming up with the title of this blog entry.  Kent is more famous for his patented balancing beer bottle act.  It’s my belief that everyone should be famous for something.

The 2012 Illinois State Fair closed with a late addition to its grandstand line-up, but it was one that got a lot of people talking – the Steve Miller Band, with Dave Mason opening. I don’t know if it was because the show was on a Sunday or because it was added late in the game, but this concert deserved much better attendance than it had.

For those who are unfamiliar with Dave Mason, he has an impressive classic rock pedigree and showed off much of his resume during an hour-long acoustic set to open the concert.  Still, I was impressed that he joked about his relative obscurity these days when he said, “I am very glad to be here.  Actually, I’m very glad to be anywhere these days.”

Dave Mason does look happy to be there.

My highlights from Mason’s set included songs he originally played with Traffic “Dear Mr. Fantasy" included); closing with “Feelin’ Alright,” which Mason wrote and was most famously covered by Joe Cocker; and of course his big solo hit, “We Just Disagree.”  What a fitting song to summarize my summer.  His stories were also entertaining and brought a nice perspective to his associations with so many other famous rock stars from the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The only drawback (not necessarily a complaint) was after an hour of acoustics, no matter how entertaining it was, the crowd was ready for something more … lively?  Don’t get me wrong … Dave Mason sounded awesome, but I know I would have liked to have seen a few faster paced songs thrown in just for variety.

Moving on to the headliner, I can’t imagine any true Steve Miller fan being disappointed with this show.  Although it wasn’t as good as when I saw him at Beale Street Music Festival a couple of years ago, there’s no doubt this band can still bring it!

Somewhere behind this excited beer drinker is Steve Miller.
They wasted no time delving into their substantial catalog of hits, starting the show with “Jungle Love” (admittedly not one of my favorites).  By the time they finished “Take The Money and Run” for the second song, the majority of the crowd, at least where I was on the track, was in full sing-along mode. 

Personal highlights of the show:  Miller showcasing his guitar prowess during a lengthy version of “Fly Like An Eagle,” hearing earlier and more obscure gems like “Living in the U.S.A.,” Gangster of Love” and “Serenade,” a homage to his blues influences with a cover of “Further On Up The Road” and, my personal favorite Steve Miller Band song – “Jet Airliner.”

This was also the type of show, if you were paying attention to the set list, that you knew there’d be an encore.  After very briefly leaving the stage upon concluding “Rock’n Me,” the band returned, and a gracious Miller got the finale started with “Dance, Dance, Dance,” followed by “Swingtown,” “Space Cowboy” (bonus points for that, since they don’t always play it!) and, of course, “The Joker.”  Really, I think “Space Cowboy” and “The Joker” is the perfect conclusion for a Steve Miller Band concert. 

So, there you have it – another fun show capping off an excellent 2012 Illinois State Fair.  Maybe I’m easy to please, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

I still have plenty of material from the summer to catch up on, and more recently another concert I’d like to talk about – Dr. John at the Big Muddy Blues Festival in St. Louis.  Hopefully that will be enough to entice my five faithful readers to keep reading.

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