Brad Patton

CONCERT REVIEW: Boz Scaggs plays across the ages in spellbinding Wilkes-Barre performance

CONCERT REVIEW: Boz Scaggs plays across the ages in spellbinding Wilkes-Barre performance
Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Text Size Print This Page

Boz Scaggs brought his patented blend of blue-eyed soul, rock, blues, and jazz to the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts in Wilkes-Barre on Wednesday, Oct. 12.

The now 72-year-old singer/songwriter is aging gracefully, his voice still silky smooth and his guitar playing better than you might have remembered. Backed by a fine six-piece band, Scaggs played a mixture of hits, newer songs, and choice covers for a riveting 90-minute performance.

After opening with “It All Went Down the Drain” from his 1997 album “Come On Home,” Scaggs said, “We’re going to move around the musical map, playing some songs you might remember from radio, CDs, 8-tracks, 45s, or whatever, some newer songs we enjoy playing, and maybe a surprise or two along the way.”

Scaggs and his band then started the familiar intro to “Jojo,” a No. 17 hit from 1980, and followed up with a cover of Joe Simon’s 1971 hit “Drowning in the Sea of Love” in an arrangement Scaggs said he borrowed from Donald Fagen and his New York Rock and Soul Revue (with which Scaggs performed between 1989 and 1992).

Scaggs then took the crowd to New Orleans with a cover of “I’m a Fool to Care” from his latest album (2015’s “A Fool to Care”) and then scored with the title track to his 1994 album “Some Change.”

Five of the evening’s 14 tunes came from Scaggs’ most successful record, 1976’s “Silk Degrees,” which peaked at No. 2 and spent 115 weeks on the Billboard 200 before being certified five-times platinum. The first of these songs, “Harbor Lights,” featured Scaggs on acoustic guitar, and its follow-up, “Georgia,” had some members of the audience dancing in the aisles.

Background vocalist Ms. Monét was featured prominently on a rearranged version of 1980’s “Miss Sun.” She then took over the spotlight for a cover of a Stevie Wonder song made famous by Aretha Franklin, “Until You Come Back to Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do),” which garnered her a standing ovation.

Following an acoustic guitar-driven “Last Tango on 16th Street” from the 2015 album, Scaggs brought the main set to a close with standout versions of his two biggest hits – the No. 3 “Lowdown” and the No. 11 “Lido Shuffle,” both from “Silk Degrees.”

The encore began with another “Silk Degrees” song, “What Can I Say,” before Scaggs brought the house down both vocally and with his tasty guitar work on the epic “Loan Me a Dime,” the Fenton Robinson blues tune Scaggs first recorded for his 1969 self-titled album.

The Garrett Lebeau Band opened the show with a strong 30-minute set of tunes from the Native American Shoshone singer/songwriter often compared to Scaggs.

Photos by Keith Perks/1120 Studios