Right after an acceptance speech during which he traced the nooks and crannies of his musical history, Steve Miller jumped on stage with his band to perform some of his best-known hits.
Appropriately, the set began with “Fly Like An Eagle,” with Miller square in the stage spotlight effortlessly coaxing out fluid bluesy riffs from his guitar, as understated as ever.
Keyboardist Joseph Wooten was as much a star as Miller, as he enhanced the song with space-age trills, as well as soulful keyboards and backing vocals.
After a faithful run-through of the song’s early part, Miller and his band stretched out and started to improvise. This detour showed off the chemistry and musicianship of each band member. Keyboardist Joseph Wooten was as much a star as Miller, as he enhanced the song with space-age trills, as well as soulful keyboards and backing vocals. At stage right, bassist Kenny Lee Lewis as well was enveloped into the song’s groove, steered by Miller’s long-time drummer, Gordy Knudtson.
As the song progressed, Miller put his vocal stamp on the sprawling tune, whispering, “tick-tock-tick,” and then slipping some lyrics from Steve Miller Band’s “I Want To Make The World Turn Around” for good measure.
The set picked up in tempo and energy with the next song, “Jet Airliner,” which found Miller and the band working through the song like the seasoned pros they are. This song also showed off the group’s chemistry: Miller and band sang the “Keep on rocking me, baby!” line a cappella with precision, which let the crowd sing and clap along.
Miller strapped on a bedazzled blue guitar before the set-ending “The Joker,” the perfect platform as he played some slide-guitar effects during the inimitable “some people call me Maurice” line.
Tonight, he and the band played up the breezy, stoner-blues vibe of the tune, slowing down the tempo and underscoring the influence Miller’s had on decades of rock bands.
The 2016 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be broadcast on HBO on April 30.