Giving Some Lovin' To Steve Winwood's Greatest Hits Tour

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Artwork from Steve Winwood's Greatest Hits Live Double Album

When you see a chance, take it. That’s what the man said, right? And why wouldn’t you? The Fabulous Fox Theatre has been host to some amazing musicians with amazingly long careers in recent years. Gladys Knight was a delight, Paul Simon was sensational, Carlos Santana was super, and John Fogerty, well, his show was in a class by itself. Return to Forever, Chick Corea’s jazz super group, was the most inspiring and indescribably beautiful music performance I’ve ever seen. That’s a mighty collection of the best of the best right there, and to join that level of talent you’d have to be pretty special. A multi-instrumentalist, a career spanning more decades than I’ve been alive (and I’m getting old), a career began at the tender age of 14, when there were apparently no child labor laws applicable to piano prodigies in Britain in the 1960s. Yes, the man said when you see a chance, take it, and a full house took the chance to enjoy Steve Winwood live on February 28, 2017. You never argue with a legend, you just let them do what they do.

Age hasn’t slowed Mr. Winwood down much. He might sing in a slightly lower octave than he did with The Spencer Davis Group, Traffic (with whom he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2004), Blind Faith, or in his exceptional solo career, particularly in the 1980s when seemingly every track he put out was a top 10 hit. Not everybody can be John Anderson from Yes, so that’s to be expected. You would also expect to hear some familiar favorites. Steve Winwood did not disappoint. With classics like I’m A Man from his time in The Spencer Davis Group, Can’t Find My Way Home from his Blind Faith days and The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys from the Traffic years, Winwood showed why he’s had staying power. Higher Love and Roll With It had the audience’s toes a-tapping.  The encore was the highlight of the night for me, with John Barleycorn Must Die, Dear Mr. Fantasy, and my favorite song to put the pedal to the metal to, Gimmie Some Lovin’, sending folks home happy. I always knew Winwood was a maestro on the Hammond Organ, but the man can really jam on a guitar, as evidenced by his stirring string playing on Dear Mr. Fantasy.  

Mr. Winwood was supported by an outstanding compliment of musicians. His band consisted of guitarist José Neto, drummer Richard Bailey, saxophone man Paul Booth, and percussionist Edwin Sanz. Mr. Sanz and Mr. Neto reminded me of the incomparable bass player Stanley Clarke at times, their hands moving at mesmerizing speeds, blurring as they made magic for our ears. Calling Mr. Booth a mere sax man doesn’t tell the whole story—the man can play pretty much anything and do it well, and sometimes more than one instrument at a time. I have always been impressed by both the physical and mental dexterity it takes to play any instrument well, and then I’ll see a guy like Rush’s Geddy Lee and just be in complete awe as he sings, plays bass and keyboards and never misses a beat. Paul Booth was playing the sax and the keyboard at the same time, and contributing as a backup vocalist as well. That’s a rare talent! My only quibble with the band was the lack of a true bass. José Neto played the bass notes on his guitar on Gimme Some Lovin’, but it just lacked that throbbing boom of a true bass guitar that I’ve come to love.

As much fun as it was for the audience, I have to believe Mr. Winwood was even happier. His opening act was also his backup singer, and more importantly his daughter. Lilly Winwood led her small band through about a half dozen songs before her famous father strode on stage. Her vocal style had a bit of an American folk/country sound, recalling the likes of Emmylou Harris or Bonnie Rait, which certainly isn’t a bad thing.  That folksy country styling might come from her spending a lot more time in Tennessee than in England. The young twenty-something has supermodel looks and plays guitar much like her father, right down to the way they hold and carry the guitar, bending a little at the knees at times when they’re really feeling it. She looks to have a long career ahead of her as well.

If you have the chance to see Steve Winwood on tour, listen to the man and take it! Visit for more information on his 2018 Greatest Hits Tour and for the latest with daughter Lilly. As always, visit for more fantastic shows, including the Broadway hits The Color Purple and Hamilton in the next couple of months.

4.5 / 5.0