They have sold more than 30 million records in a career spanning 41 years and Penticton was treated to the Steve Miller Band’s smooth sounds on Friday.
The iconic band packed the South Okanagan Events Centre to hear his trademark blues-rock sound that has made him a go-to on classic rock radio. Miller’s calm presence but mean guitar skills, clear sound and tight band transformed the SOEC to a blues club playing some of his biggest hits, yet still making it feel like the crowd was sitting in on a jam session.
Backed by guitars, drums, keyboard and added vocal power from Sonny Charles, Miller said he was “so pleased you have come to join us.”
Miller played his hot guitar licks on Living In the USA which spent two weeks on the bottom before reaching the Billboard Hot 100 then dropping off entirely.
“Somebody get me a cheeseburger,” he yelled as the song came to a close.
Charles took over lead vocals, having already wound the crowd around his pinky finger with his dance moves and playing around with those in the front rows. In between crooning on Ooh Poo Pah Doo and Further On Up The Road he laid out high kicks and shimmied his shoulders. Charles joined the band in 2008 and two years later helped Miller cut his first album in 15 years, Bingo! It was the No.1 blues album, nominated blues-rock album of the year by the Blues Foundation.
Before going into the Carlos Santana-inspired song Shu Ba Da Du Ma Ma Ma, Miller asked the crowd to shake their tailfeather. He might not have been able to see all the way to the back of the house, but there was plenty of that going on already. Just as smoothly as he swapped guitars all night so was the transition between blues, rock, and an acoustic set.
For that a banner came down behind Miller with the Space Cowboy logo, while he sat alone on stage with guitar in hand.
“This is my favourite part of the show,” he said.
Indeed, it was amazing listening to this guitar hero scale it back and open himself up without having lost a step. He played Wild Mountain Honey, Gangster Of Love and a few others before his band re-joined him.
The energy was picked back up with hits Take The Money And Run, Rock ‘n Me and Jet Airliner. Miller turned to Fly Like An Eagle for the encore, allowing keyboardist Joseph Wooten to shine on one of his bigger hits from the album of the same name. A glow of cell phones held up in the air dotted the crowd, probably the only thing that has changed from his live show in the span of four decades. His voice is unmistakable and rarely waned. Where it did, Charles and the other filled in the gaps nicely.
Fans were out of their seats dancing for the duration of the concert, just as they probably have been for the 40-plus years Miller has been shredding on his guitar. The music is what everyone was there for, a lack of stage eye candy and fancy lights didn’t take away from anything, Miller and his band were there for a concert.
As a side note, opening act Matthew Curry was amazing. The teen guitar phenom has a gravelly blues voice and range of guitar sounds.