Steve Miller at The Berkeley Community Theatre
December 17, 1988
Some people call him the space cowboy, some call him the gangster of love, but Berkeley called him some kind of wonderful! Nearing the end of the north american tour in support of his latest release Born 2B Blue, Steve Miller seemed as energetic and enthused as if he had just hit the road. Eager to please, he played something for everyone; an eclectic set of songs that included some new ones, some not-so-new ones, and a lot of old classic hits much to the delight of the surprisingly young cheering section in the balcony. Opening the show with a solo acoustic version of Sam Cooke's "You Send Me," and two classics of his own "Seasons" and "Wild Mountain Honey," Miller was then joined on stage by the rest of his band for a jazzy electric set that they kicked off with "Space Cowboy." The remainder of the first set consisted mainly of songs from the new album and ended with a rocking version of "Swingtown" that featured an incredible solo on tenor saxophone.
Miller has assembled a superb group of musicians for this tour, featuring jazz musician and producer of Born 2B Blue, Ben Sidran at the piano, Ricky Peterson on electric keyboards and synthesizer, Paul Peterson on rhythm guitar, Billy Peterson on bass (collectively, the Peterson Brothers), Bobby Malach on saxophone and Gordy Knudtson on drums.
The Born 2B Blue material reflects Miller's predilection for the musical influences that shaped his own style and represents a shift from primarily pop-oriented songs to a headier jazz-fusion sound. The "new" songs are essentially covers of old pop/jazz ballads including Billie Holiday's "God Bless The Child," Lee Dorsey's "Ya Ya," and the title track: "Born To Be Blue," a Mel Torme song.
Steve donned dark shades during most of the second set as he took the audience on a journey into the past rousing them with heady versions of some of his greatest hits including "The Joker" which he dedicated to Les Paul (whom he credits for having taught him how to play slide guitar), "Threshold," "Fly Like An Eagle," "Abra-ca-da-bra," "Take the Money and Run," "Rockin Me," and a climactic "Jet Airliner." Taking advantage of the momentum, the band came back for a two song encore; a rocking "Living in the U.S.A," was followed by a jazzed up version of "C.C. Ryder" that featured impressive extended solos by each of the musicians. Throughout the show, Miller never ceased to amaze the audience with his musical range and dazzling guitar work, enhanced by the loose improvisational style of his band and the acoustics of the theatre.
Copyright 1988 Hot Ticket! Magazine