Jonny Lang Rocks The Historic State Theatre
Before we delve into Jonny Lang though, the talented, opening band Runaway Saints from Nashville, Tennessee via Rhode Island did a great job warming up the crowd. Their music is a cross between alternative and country influence, and they utilized the banjo in their set, which I loved. The group includes Johnny Gates, Jamie Jarbeau, and Matt Scanlon. They manned their merch booth after their show and were super friendly and down to earth. They recently left their major label to focus more on the music true to them. One of the great songs they sang was California’s Girl and the crowd responded enthusiastically.
Jonny Lang is one of THE most important and talented guitarists/ musicians of our generation. He effortlessly proved it over and over again at his concert at The State Theatre last night. Backed by a tight band, the packed State Theatre was rocking all night to Lang’s virtuoso guitar playing and mesmerizing, trance-like singing. It’s almost like Lang is floating above the crowd as his subconscious takes over his intricate playing. You can’t take your eyes off Lang when he plays. Lang generously shared the stage with his amazing musicians, with each of them having lengthy solos through out the show.
Lang’s stage was simple and impactful. He has a four piece-backing band. His lead guitarist, Court Clement, was on his left with his keyboardist Dwan Hill also left of him and toward the back of the stage. His drummer, Barry Alexander, was to his right and toward the back of the stage and his bassist, Calvin Turner was to his left and front of the stage. The set would glow different colors and hues depending on what was being played. Blues hues set the mood for a slow groove and so forth.
Lang started the show powerfully by unassumingly striding onto stage, in a black t-shirt and jeans, and started to play “Blew Up the House.” He churned through several singles from his albums and you could feel the shift from blues to rock to gospel. His voice is strong and rich. He could go from a roar to a high note and hit all of them with ease. His black t-shirt was drenched by his high-energy performance on stage.
He fiercely played His second song “Don’t Stop (For Anything)” with such force and toward the end had this long yowl that gave me goosebumps. Just beautiful.
“Red Light” and “Lie to Me” were strong crowd favorites. During his heartfelt singing of “Red Line,” one audience member shouted, “Tear It Up Son!” Lang broke for the first time and replied, “You know my pain man!” Lang’s spiritual side was in full force during that song as he sung about redemption and pain.
The best song of the night was the last song, “Lie to Me.” Lang solo played acoustically and slowly as he started to wind up the song. The whole band came back and Lang slipped on an electric guitar and brought down the house with his searing guitar licks.
For “Angel of Mercy” Lang’s band all took turns playing solos and they proved they all had the chops.
From Dwan Hill’s organ solo to Barry Alexander’s drum solo, to Calvin Turner’s bass solo to Court Clement’s rhythm guitar. During the rhythm guitar’s solo, Lang and Clement dd a ‘call and response’ which was scalding hot.
I was luckily enough to go backstage to chat with Jonny. He shared he gets so amped up by shows that he would probably wouldn’t go to sleep for awhile as his bus heads up to his next gig in Portland, Maine. As powerful as he is on stage, he is humble, nice and down to earth off stage. What an amazing musician and man!
Lang’s Set List:
- Blew Up
- Don’t Stop
- A Quitter Never Wins
- Turn Around
- Breakin’ Me
- Red Light
- Living for the City
- That Great Day
- What R U Looking For
- We Are the Same
- Encores: Angel of Mercy;Breaking Me;and Lie to Me
Running Time: Approximately two hours and 15 minutes, including the encore.
Interview with Jonny Lang Who is Performing Tonight at The State Theatre by Marlene Hall.