Sunday Night Legends: Dave Mason and Leon Russell at The Egg

Watch the Oscar’s or go see live music? Leo and Chris Rock or Leon Russell and Dave Mason? It wasn’t a close call when The Egg announced the pairing of two legendary musicians from the 60s who have continued to create and perform music to crowds for nearly half a century.20160228-Dave Mason-5

Dave Mason (no relation) got the night started with songs spanning his career, featuring solo work and songs written during his time with Traffic. A darker “Dear Mr. Fantasy” came early in the set and was hauntingly bluesy, a theme reprised throughout the set. An extended blues jam was patient and went beyond with Johnne Sambataro (guitar) and Anthony Patler (keys) taking requisite solos; they synced up well and carried the song through its motions without a need to rush. “Good 2 U” came from a certain era of 70s rock that is smooth, accessible and engaging without being too jazzy or improv reliant. The set closed with “Feelin’ Alright,” rearranged slightly for a darker vibe, as well as the encore of “All Along the Watchtower.”

20160228-Leon Russell-1The only subpar aspect of Mason’s set was the backdrop for the band. What amounted to a computer screen broadcasting behind the band was basically a billboard for albums and dated promo for the artist as though he was just getting around to branding himself in 1995 and never updated his ad set. There were some albums, cover art and his music catalog along with some old photos, but it felt as though Dave Mason’s Traffic Jam could have used a much more psychedelic feel to their stage presence, beyond the music.

After a short change over, Leon Russell took to his white grand piano to perform Elvis’ version of “I Got a Woman” and didn’t hesitate to keep playing the hits. “Rolling in my Sweet Baby’s Arms” and “Let the Good Times Roll” fit the label of not soft rock yet not hard rock. It was Goldilocks rock:  just right. Russell told stories about playing The Concert for Bangledesh at George Harrison’s behest and performing in Woodstock for Bob Dylan, including on “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall.”

A classic country version of “Wild Horses” was highlighted by the pedal steel of Beau Charron who was versatile on the keys and mandolin over the course of the night. “I’ve Just Seen his Face” by The Beatles had a Widespread Panic sound to it which was followed shortly after by a remark about the All-Star Mad Dogs and the Englishmen set that he performed at Lockn’ Festival this past September. “Delta Lady” and “The Ballad of Mad Dogs and Englishmen” both reminded me of that powerhouse set with Tedeschi Trucks Band, Chris Robinson and the singers from the original album, all of which Russell spoke highly of in reminiscing. “Roll Over Beethoven” served as the final song of the night, and while a dual encore of Mason and Russell would have been great, there were no complaints to be had from a night of classic rock at The Egg.

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