Ah, the Vic... that great little theater where the
bartenders throw the bottle caps over their shoulders as they open
your beers... Ah, Bruce Hornsby... the man that brought the piano
back to popular music. Bruce brought his delicate piano sound to
rock-n-radio back in 1986, but has since moved on to a
jazzier/improvisational sound. Some fans think this is great, some
just want to hear him play "The Way It Is" with The Range
again. This reviewer is definitely in the former camp. I first saw
Bruce in November of 1993 doing his jazz/improv thing and was blown
away. Fortunately I was able to see him at such an intimate venue
for a sold out show this time around.
A Concert Review
Bruce began the show at a quarter to 9 with the title track off
his latest release, "Hot House Ball." This was enough to
get the anxious crowd going. Next up was "White Wheeled
Limousine." This version was closer to the one released on
Bruce's last album, but I encourage everyone to find the original on
Rob Wasserman's "Trio's" album, featuring the trio of
Wasserman, Hornsby and Branford Marsalis. This "large
band" version is good, but hearing what only a trio did on this
number will definitely impress! As Bruce sang this he meandered into
"99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" (White Wheeled Limo at a
wedding...wedding reception...drinking at the reception...drinking
songs...see, it all goes together!), which only made it to 97
bottles before returning to "White Wheeled Limousine."
Bruce then left the piano and put on his accordion, an instrument he
admits he hasn't mastered, yet but it allows him to move around
while still playing a little keyboard. We were treated to
"Western Skyline" while Bruce darted around the stage.
"Western Skyline" evolved into a cover of Bob Dylan's
"When I Paint my Masterpiece."
Bruce then mentioned that he did take requests and walked over
and picked up a large stack of papers tossed on the stage. After
going through some and lining them up on the piano, "Tango
King" was up next, followed by "Fields of Gray."
"Sugaree" followed next, much to the delight of the many
Deadheads in the crowd. "Rainbow's Cadillac" had the crowd
on its feet dancing and swaying to this song about a playground
basketball hero. After a quick breather, "Talk of the
Town" cranked up and during a particularly hot solo from the
horn section, Bruce began singing "Big Boss Man," before
returning to "Talk of the Town," which melted into
"What a Time," which in turn became "Franklin's
Tower" with a little "Chopsticks" thrown in before
finishing up climbing "Jacob's Ladder." Whew, what a
medley of songs!
Bruce then stood up, put his accordion back on and, introduced
"A Flatts and Scrugs song called, 'Lonesome Road Blues,'"
before launching into the traditional classic, "Goin' Down the
Road Feelin' Bad." Again the Deadheads erupted and danced with
glee. After traveling down the road feeling pretty good actually,
the band took a quick turn and ended the set with a walk down the
The band quickly returned and Bruce warmed up for the encore with
a little "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and "Hole in the
Bucket" (would you guess he has young children at home?),
before beginning "Spider Fingers." This song is supposedly
based on a warm up exercise for the piano. Where-ever the idea came
from, it is a great little song. The band finished up with
"Changes" and "Look out any Window," before
returning for a second encore of "Another Day," to end the
show almost 2 1/2 hours after it began.
After standing through this marathon, I thought these guys must
really be in shape to put out that much energy at such an intensity
level. Great show, TWO THUMBS UP!!
God Street Wine warmed the crowd up for Bruce. This east coast
quintet said they were going to play a 40 minute set consisting of 6
songs, 4 off the current album, 1 old, and 1 new, and that's exactly
what they did. They began with the Phish sounding "Get on the
Train." Bruce is obviously a fan of theirs because he was
lurking at the back of the stage while they performed a couple of
the songs, one of which Hornsby requested. The set ended with their
new song, "Good Bye Oklahoma." The band apologized for the
one year lay off in visits to Chicago, and said they would try to
get back soon. Not a bad little group. ONE THUMB UP!