Concert Review: BluesFest 2018

John Fogerty / Steve Miller Band, BluesFest 2018 review – keep on chooglin’

Sixties survivors unpack their back catalogues

By Adam Sweeting

The evening’s earlier set from the Steve Miller Band was an object lesson in meticulous packaging and production. Now 75, Miller is not only a successful musician but a smart businessman, and this performance ran with a sleek, almost corporate efficiency. The dapper Miller looked as though he could deliver a quarterly earnings update or a black tie conference speech with equal aplomb (Miller pictured above with Joseph Wooten).

Still, reminding us that this event was titled BluesFest, he made a point of taking a tour of his roots (his group was originally called the Steve Miller Blues Band). He tipped his hat to the numerous blues legends he got to rub shoulders with in Chicago in the early Sixties, with a special mention for the recently-deceased Otis Rush. He played Rush’s “All Your Love (I Miss Loving)”, and apart from the lyrics, it was a dead ringer for Fleetwood Mac’s “Black Magic Woman”. He went even further back, to the 1940s, for “Mercury Blues”.

But it was his string of 1970s hit singles that made Miller a superstar, and he led his well-drilled combo through all of them. From “Take the Money and Run” to “Swingtown” and “Jet Airliner”, they’re craftily-constructed nuggets of commercial catchiness, enhanced here by some electronic underpinning and the band’s tight vocal harmonies. For aficionados, he also lobbed in “Kow Kow Calqulator”, a kind of prototype of “Take The Money…” The chart-toppers “Abracadabra”, “Rock’n Me” and “The Joker” had to be in there too, even if Miller’s wolf-whistle slide guitar in the latter probably qualifies as a hate crime these days. Throughout, he showed off plenty of nifty guitar technique, frequently with added echo effects, and had some fun playing a bizarre 19-stringed “sitar-guitar” during a trippy “Wild Mountain Honey”. Evidently, Miller never let all that flower power go to his head.

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