Saratoga Springs was in for a treat this past Monday night as Blues Traveler played their smallest, and most northern date of a tour in support of their new release Suzie Cracks the Whip. The Putnam Den was packed tightly, more than ever before, with an eager crowd of all ages rapt with attention to John Popper as guitarist Chan Kinchla took control of the stage and drove the band through a fast paced two hours.
Opening up with “All Things Are Possible” and “Nobody Fall in Love with Me”, two tracks off Suzie, the audience adjusted the to new music and kept their ears peeled for the hits that were forthcoming. Surprisingly, for a few at least, the band broke into Sublime’s “What I Got”, which has found new life in an appropriate band, Popper mastering the vocals on this 90s number. Bassist Tad Kinchla broke down the ending of the song while Popper took a water break on this extended jam and refreshed his whistle. “Love and Greed” off their third album and the classic “But Anyway” followed with songs from the new album mixed in. “Savings Grace” -> “Run Around” provided the longest jam and segue of the night (see video below), highlighting the keys work of Ben Wilson.
“The Devil Went Down to (Saratoga)” stirred the crowd wildly, eliciting screams of joy and fist pumps in step with the drum beat, cheering on yet another apropos cover that allowed Popper’s harmonica skills to shine. A crowd favorite, “Mountains Win Again”, the ballad off the ever-popular Four was the highlight of the night to this point, Popper not having lost anything from his voice over the years. He responded with toasts to the crowd, again and again – five all during the night, showing appreciation for the adoring crowd. To cap the set, “Hook” was the last hit on the list, providing a crowd sing along with the lyrics that somehow, everyone has been able to master over the years:
“Suck it in suck it in suck it in if you’re Rin Tin Tin or Anne Boleyn make a desperate move or else you’ll win and then begin to see what you’re doing to me this MTV is not for free it’s so PC it’s killing me so desperately I sing to thee of love sure but also rage and hate and pain and fear of self and I can’t keep these feelings on the shelf I’ve tried well no in fact I lied could be financial suicide but I’ve got too much pride inside to hide or slide I’ll do as I’ll decide and let it ride until I’ve died and only then shall I abide this tide of catchy little tunes of hip three minute ditties I wanna bust all your balloons I wanna burn all of your cities to the ground I’ve found I will not mess around unless I play then hey I will go on all day hear what I say I have a prayer to pray that’s really all this was and when I’m feeling stuck and need a buck I don’t rely on luck because the hook brings you back”
Popper, cool on stage with his fans and the crowd sweaty and happy caught their breath on a break for the encore, which started out with drumming and another toast “We love you Saratoga! We never come up here enough and we will come up here more!” Popper then dedicated the next song, “Carolina” in honor of the Yankees, after asking for a score on an off night. Wailing guitar and lyrics capped off a perfect night of music from Blues Traveler, bridging the 90s to the present with songs from a bygone era and present day.
All Things are Possible, Nobody Fall in Love with Me, What I Got, Love and Greed, Can’t Win->But Anyway, Recognize my Friend, Save His Soul->Run Around, Cara Let the Moon, Things are Looking Up, The Devil Went Down to Georgia, Mountains Win Again, You Don’t Have to Love Me, Drums->Hook
Playlist: But Anyway, Save His Soul->Run Around, The Devil Went Down to Georgia, Hook