Last Night: Boz Scaggs At Stafford Centre
While mellow modern jazz players have hijacked and ruined the word "smooth" as a synonym for blandness, Thursday night Boz Scaggs helped reclaim the adjective as a positive attribute in a powerful show laden with most of his best-known numbers.
"Cool" would definitely be another word to describe the 66-year-old singer/guitarist who has lost none of his playing prowess, and whose voice retains almost the exact timbre from the era of Silk Degrees, Down Two Then Left and Middle Man. A crack, six-piece backing band including longtime vocalist, the incendiary Miss Monet, added a solid gutbucket groove to much of the material, and Scaggs was obviously comfortable with them throughout.
Unlike many of his classic-rock contemporaries, Scaggs straddled multiple genres, including ballads, big band, blues, jazz, rockers, and even the occasional disco number. And while that may have hurt his career in terms of identifiability, it made for more than satisfying 90-minute show.
The generous helping of tunes from Scaggs' most successful record, 1976's Silk Degrees, got the biggest audience reaction, especially "Georgia" and "Lido Shuffle." And the Urban Cowboy soundtrack ballad "Look What You've Done to Me" - delivered in an alternately peaceful and heated romantic reading - plucked it out of the cinematic visual where Texas Pam looked over the Houston skyline in her Galleria-area high rise while seducing John Travolta.
Welcome additions included some lesser-known tacks like a cover of Allen Toussaint's "Hercules" (the New Orleans composer is a Scaggs favorite). Also, the title track from his underrated 1994 Some Change release, came with lyrics the laid-back Scaggs noted are certainly applicable to today's political and economic climate.
Miss Monet got plenty of chance to wail, with a skill and control lost amidst today's American Idol-style vocal gymnasts, on the playful "Miss Sun" duet with Scaggs and her own spotlight on Bonnie Raitt's "Something To Talk About." How her sexily ample figure snugged into that tight, tight black dress proved that Scaggs must have at least one Army Corps engineer on the road crew.