Concert Review Dave Mason and Leon Russell
OK OK How can a guy who love’s new music as much as I do go down a classic rock road like this?
If you know my tastes in music you would understand. I love great songwriters—whose music stands up across the spectrum of time.
Last night Mary and I drove down ~75 miles to Tarrytown Music Hall and saw this two aging giants.
The big surprise was the incredible rock guitar brinksmanship displayed by Dave Mason. Did you know that he was 19 when he co-founded Traffic? He wrote “Dear Mr Fantasy”—at 19! AT 19!!!
The show started with “Only You Know and I Know” and I turned to Mary and with a heavy sigh said—oh boy–sounds like a mediocre bar band—-they should not play that song even though it’s a great song–there was little passion–almost like–can we get this out of the way? and then BOOM—-he launched into several songs where his incredible electric guitar playing was in a word–amazeballs (thanks for that Joseph Weinstein)….from “Feelin Alright” to “All Along the Watchtower (memo–he played 12 string on Electric Ladyland with Jimi Hendrix) he absolutely blew us away.
In full transparency, i came to the gig with a old chip on my shoulder. When I was a young concert promoter @ U Penn I booked Dave into an on campus museum hall that had never been used for a concert—sold it out in advance (800 seats) and on the day of the show he cancelled for no apparent reason….You know i was a kid pouring my heart into it and man I was really f’n pissed.
Dave, its cool dude….and then
Leon came strutting on the stage. The dude has looked old–premature grey I think— every since I first saw him at the “Concert For Bangladesh” @ Madison Square Garden live. I was in HS and working that summer at my grandparents Shoul…The Manhattan Beach Jewish Center in their day camp and living with them and candidly—-some of the happiest days of my life. So they announced this gig on WNEW-FM and I turned to my grandmother (Selma Press) and she said let’s get in the car and drive to “Ticketron” in Brooklyn. What looked like thousands—to me maybe tens of thousands of kids were lined up already. She patiently told me to get in line while she would wait in the car. I got the last two tickets to the historic show as the guy behind me wailed when told right after me “sorry he got the last tickets for the show”
I asked a girl to the gig. (here comes a very not PC thingy but so very true)—she was older than me by maybe two years and worked at the camp and had a beautiful face imho and an amazing RACK. At 15 I could not think about much else all summer—I was mesmerized by her and so when I got these tickets—- which were the hottest thing that summer in NYC— I mustered up the courage to ask her to the show and blow me down—- she said YES!…..but she had zero interest in me—a geeky young teenager with all the geekiness imaginable—but did it matter to me—NO! I was taking a hot girl to the most important show in the world (hint—a Beatle was fronting it and if you think they still rock culture today—back in the day it was bigger than Trump! (did I just say that;)
Anyway, in many ways it was the most important live gig of my life because: well for a start–Bob Dylan came out of hiding after his accident and played—with George Harrison and Ringo Starr and Eric Clapton and Klauss Voorman….and who knew about Leon Russell? Until he launched into the now infamous medley including “Jumpin Jack Flash” and sang on his version of Harrison’s “Beware of Darkness”….I feel in love that night—- not with the girl—but with the magic of live music and truth—I pivoted into a live concert promoter soon after (for another post)..and did I say that this was the world’s first BIG Cause event—-that made a real impression on me too–the power of music to shine a light on people in harms way—a BIG DEAL for me
So last night Mary and I—real fans of a master songwriter— “Stranger in a Strange World” “Song for You” Mad Dogs and Englishmen” (he was the Mad Dog)….and what we witnessed was a really feeble man who still could bang on those ivories…but whose voice and presence was a fraction of its former self.
So he turned to the audience many times and before songs told the stories you hung on to every word. About Dylan and Joe Cocker and George Harrison and all Mary and I could do was wish we were not seeing a last gig…..of a man whose live stage presence was omnipotent back in the day—-.
Why do all these legends keep playing—mostly its not for the money if they kept their publishing…
Musicians can play forever if they’ve their chops—you see it in jazz all the time–but rockers who sing too—memo— that’s why Robert Plant refuses to collect a few hundred million and parade himself out to sing songs he wrote when his vocal chords had no limits—as they do now and have had for decades.
So if you are “out there” my friends and get a chance to see “Traffic Jam” Dave Mason’s current tour—do not miss it.
As for Leon—blessed to be in his presence last night and that first night when he changed my world—for–eva eva eva eva
Oh and I thought to share what songs are enrapturing me today
Have a listen and lmk what you think…
The Day Jimi Hendrix Claimed ‘All Along the Watchtower’
Jimi Hendrix recorded a definitive cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘All Along the Watchtower’ on January 21, 1968.