Blues Traveler Live – It only took me 16 Years…

September 15, 2010

After being a fan of Blues Traveler since hearing “Run Around” on their classic album “Four” in middle school in 1994 (I actually bought the cassette with magazine sale credits), I had always wanted to see them live. Well, 16 years later, this past weekend I finally got the chance at the Marion Popcorn Festival here in central Ohio.

Despite describing myself as a fan, I can only name you three songs by title off the top of my head. I guess under most circumstances that really doesn’t sound impressive, however I would argue that I am a fan of not only those few songs but their sound. They have a unique niche in the ever looming landscape of “popular music”. They have formed an almost perfect hybrid of rock and blues, two genres which I love.

So does being able to name songs make someone a fan, or disqualify them if they cannot? That’s a question for another time.

The point is I was finally able to see them at a small venue nonetheless, how was the concert you ask? It was good. Not great, but good.

In many ways it seemed like a jam band concert, with songs lasting 8-10 minutes. They of course played their three notable hits: “Run Around”, “Hook”, and “But Anyway”. The most noticeable part of the show however were the multiple five minute long smoke breaks that lead singer/harmonica god John Popper and their guitarist took. This was made almost more awkward by the fact that the bassist and drummer played on, as these breaks were often mid-song.

My first thought was, “how can this guy smoke so much and still have the lung capacity to do the amazing things he does on the harmonica?” I still don’t have an answer for that, but it obviously doesn’t affect him, as he played that mouth organ for several minutes straight at times.

In the end, it was a good show as I have said. They played many covers (again calling attention to the slim number of crowd known songs they have), including: “I Want You to Want Me”, Sublime’s “What I Got”, and a quite amazing harmonica version of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”.

All in all, it was a nice cool September night with good popcorn and good music, and I can finally cross them off of the list of bands I would like to see. Would I see them again?

Possibly, under the right circumstances…because there is just something so alluring about the harmonica played with such unearthly finesse and skill is irresistible. In the words of the man himself,

“If I’m doing my job, it’s your resolve that breaks. Because the hook brings you back, I ain’t tellin’ you no lie.

The hook brings you back. On that you can rely…”

VIDEO CLIPS

Full Performance of “Run Around”

Full Performance of “Hook”

SETLIST

The Star-Spangled Banner>
Freedom>
The Devil Went Down To Georgia
Mulling It Over>
But Anyway
Run-Around
Forever Owed
You, Me & Everything>
You Reach Me
The Mountains Win Again>
What I Got>
NY Prophesie
I Want You To Want Me>
Hook

Encore
Crash Burn

(Setlist courtesy of  www.bluestraveler.net)

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