w/ Shana Morrison
GAMH, SF, CA
Friday, August 1, 2008
I was pleasantly surprised by this show. I've seen Sonny before and always enjoyed him, but this wasn't on my calendar as a 'can't miss' show.
Apparently the opening act, Shana Morrison, is Van's daughter and I got the feeling she may be a Marin local (NYE show flyers for the Marin Civic Center). She was okay, she had some nice moments and she had some screechy moments. The band was rocking, like you would expect a bar band to rock, they were pretty basic. Their Will the Circle Be Unbroken was good, I mostly hear it bluegrass so the full band treatment was cool--(Hint Hint is The Collective listening? )
Between sets I heard one door guy say to another 'yeah, it's gonna be a night of guitar faces' ha ha ha ha , that one got me good~it was sorta what I was expecting, this was a 'Guitar Player Presents' show. The crowd was definitely that sort of crowd, but it was great, Sonny straight up ROCKED OUT ! A lot more energy than the last time I saw him. The band is a trio, Sonny on slide, drums and bass. The shreddy guitar fans loved it, it was all guitar, all night (~1:45 minute set).
Last weeks Soul Stew show definitely influenced my opinion, sitting really changed the energy of Derek and Susan. So...to be standing at the GAMH, where you can drink...what a delight! Being generous, I'd say the place was 2/3's full. It was easy to move around and dance, remembering the confinement of last week's show only made me enjoy the GAMH more...
Pure sitdown shows definitely constrain audience energy. This became painfully obvious at a sitdown, reserved-only Bonnie Raitt show at Red Rocks two years ago. She was puzzled at the lack of energy, but the people buying reserved up front were there to be passively entertained and you know that doesn't work. Bonnie said 'Okay, last tune,' and everyone was up. Then Bonnie played another 30 minutes. Bad mistake at the Rocks, for example, because when the front is general admission, you get the serious fans (such as myself) who are there to listen and give back.
Anyway, saw Soul Stew in Boulder at Chautauqua Auditorium, which is cramped reserved and definitely that affected the show vibe.
Good to see a review of Sonny at the GAMH. I've seen Sonny countless times in Louisiana and been to the GAMH a handful of times, I wish it was more! I was reading an interview with Luther Dickinson recently where he described a slide technique he utilizes as the "Sonny Landreth move."