Review: Boz Scaggs at Red Butte

The crowd at Red Butte Garden was graced with perfect Salt Lake summer evening weather as the opening act took the stage. Jeff LeBlanc is a 29 year old singer/songwriter hailing from New York who played a solo acoustic 40 minute set.

With the help of his “looper,” a foot controlled digital recording device that allows performers to layer multiple instrumental and vocal parts live, he won over the attentive crowd with his great songs and candid, humorous banter between tunes. Think John Mayer meets Ed Sheerhan and you got it. His original songs are featured on several  teen drama make-out sessions according to Jeff, and featured some better than average guitar playing and his soulful falsetto. He wrapped up with a cover of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” which the audience loved.

Boz Scaggs and his 6 piece band came on at 8:20, and got things underway with his blues “Runnin’ Blue.” The band settled right in. Boz chatted and explained that he’d be visiting material from throughout his long career. They launched into a rumba- boogie cover of Willy DeVille’s “Mixed Up Shook Up Girl” and it felt like the party had swung into gear. Folks were starting to dance on the next number, the hit single co-written with David Foster, “Jo Jo.”


The performance continued with a cover of Gamble and Huff’s “Drowning in a Sea of Love” with an arrangement reminiscent of Steely Dan, letting the band stretch out with some world class improvising. They grooved on thru Boz’s tunes “Some Change”, and a nice acoustic version of “Harbor Lights” that morphed into a samba for more killin’ guitar and keyboard solos.

After a well received rendition of “Georgia,’ a big hit from the Silk Degrees album in 1976, Boz stepped aside to feature the back up singer Ms. Monet on a cover of the Stevie Wonder penned Aretha Franklin 1973 hit  “Until You Come Back To Me,” and she wowed the audience with her soulful five octave vocal range.

Couples slow danced for the next tune “Look What You’ve Done To Me”, the popular ballad from the soundtrack of the film “Urban Cowboy”, and the entire house was on it’s feet for “Lowdown” and “Lido Shuffle.” Surprsingly, it seemed as though none of the nearly sold-out crowd left before they were favored with two encores.

As the full moon rose Boz flashed his bluesy guitar chops on 1969’s “Loan Me a Dime,” which transitioned thru a couple of double time grooves featuring the band. After a rousing version of Fats Domino’s “I’m Sick and Tired of Foolin’ Around With You,” the show closed with a lovely tango “Last Tango on Sixteenth Street” conjouring the Buena Vista Social Club.

Throughout the show, Red Butte was wrapped in a good vibe from the appreciative and polite audience. And at 71 years of age, Boz Scaggs is singing and playing as well as ever!

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