Johnny’s Back

P.D. Kelley

How lucky are Rogue Theatre audiences to get to see Jonny Lang twice in nine months? I always say we have the most enthusiastic fans and one of the favorites is Lang. The crowd at this sold out performance showed him some love on September 1st. This time around he seemed truly stunned by the wild reception and he thanked everyone several times for “coming out tonight” followed by that infectious grin, just before he launched into another incredible number. There were some blues tunes but not so much as last time, plus the jazz, the R & B, the gospel and the rock. He and his band are nothing if not versatile and I say again that this performance still falls into one of the best I’ve experienced. Zane Carney playing lead and rhythm guitar seems to be Lang’s touchstone as they are old friends and Carney is a splendid musician. Like last time, Carney opened for Lang and once again demonstrated his musical proficiency. He also has a charming stage presence and some funny patter that gets the crowd laughing. He did some jamming with Charles Jones, a truly gifted keyboardist who apparently is on temporary loan to the band. Carney has played with many famous folks to include U2 and he and Jones had some fun with I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For. Barry Alexander was still on drums and still stellar. Jimmy Anton reprised his soulful bass chops and when all these mates took their final bow, I could feel the connection among them. They seem to love as well as respect each other, as people and as musicians. Lang, as always, showed his appreciation for his band and extorted the crowd to “give it up” for each one. The final encore number was, as in December, Lie to Me, first slow and soulful, then at blazing tempo meant to rock the house and it did. What was different was just before this, Lang came out on stage solo with just an acoustic guitar and sang a couple numbers to include Breaking Me. If you’ve heard this song, you know his tone is true but the voice is so compelling he sounds like he’s near an emotional collapse. I’ll bet there wasn’t a woman in the house who wasn’t moaning just a little with him. Good-looking men who are suffering are almost irresistible. Last time I said that seeing Jonny Lang live in concert should be on your “Ten things I need to do before I leave the planet” list. Make that five.

Catch you on the flip side…