Steve Winwood Kicks Out the Jams

Brooklyn Bowl, June 14

Photo Erik Kabik/ Retna/

Photo Erik Kabik/ Retna/

Opening his U.S. tour with back-to-back shows at Brooklyn Bowl, it remained to be seen how the 66-year-old Englishman would balance the various stages of his lengthy career: teenage Ray Charles soundalike with the Spencer Davis Group; serious jazz-rocker with Traffic; supergroup collaborator with Blind Faith; and solo pop star of the 1980s. He all but dismissed the latter chapter, instead stretching out 11 songs over a 90-minute set that featured extensive jamming from Winwood, who played both Hammond organ and guitar, and his accompanying four-piece band.

The first five songs, including two from Winwood’s most recent album, 2008’s Nine Lives, casually eased the crowd into things. The energy ramped up from there, however, with a Traffic trilogy of “The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys,” “Empty Pages” and a climactic 20-minute version of “Light Up Or Leave Me Alone,” which featured some fierce soloing from each band member. Even the lone commercial hit of the night, “Higher Love,” received a stripped-down, altered arrangement. If you came wanting to hear “Valerie” or “Back in the High Life Again,” you might have left a tad disappointed, but if you wanted great musicianship from one of rock’s legends, you got what you came for. ★★★✩✩

I’m A Man
Can’t Find My Way Home
Dirty City
The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys
Empty Pages
Light Up or Leave Me Alone
Higher Love

Dear Mr. Fantasy
Gimme Some Lovin’

Photos Erik Kabik/ Retna/ 

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