The seductive pull of two legends playing one room was force enough to attract a sold-out crowd to the opening night of Blues Fest at The O2.
Now a firm annual fixture in every true music lover’s gig diary, Blues Fest continues with an astute mix of performers to create a heady brew of sold-out shows.
To open this year’s golden run of shows, The Steve Miller Band nonchalantly ambled onto this illustrious stage and cracked open an intoxicating set of classy blues blended in with his own timeless hits.
And a true test of anybody’s legendary status is when they blast out a groove that empties the bar areas as fans rush into the arena to take their seats. This and more happened as Miller’s band swung into The Stake – a deep cut from his Book Of Dreams album – and by the time a pacy Abracadabra chimed up Miller’s magical musical spell had all seats taken.
And those hits reminded everybody of the superb run of songs this master musician produced during the seventies and eighties as Take the Money and Run, Space Cowboy, Rock’n Me, The Joker and a soulful, spacey Fly Like an Eagle found tonight’s audience joyfully singing along.
Notwithstanding the masterly blues numbers that interspersed these hits delivering both ballast and grit to a well-rounded set. In particular, a stunning cover of Otis Rush’s All Your Love, which was preceded by Miller recounting how Rush, being a family friend of the Miller’s, gave Steve an early break by allowing a callow Miller to play along with his band in a local bar.
Leaving the stage to thunderous applause, all these years down the road to the 02 a consummate Miller is still spinning his musical tales in masterly fashion.
The interlude following The Steve Miller’s Band storming set provided a momentary calm prior to the ensuing dynamic and infectious set from John Fogerty which followed.
Seemingly with the wind back in his proud sails, there was a high expectancy of something special about to unfold and Fogerty did not disappoint. In fact, he positively thrilled as he played a career-defining and highly entertaining show belying his three score and ten (and then some) as he energetically played an absolute blinder.
Racing onto the stage grinning like a Cheshire cat as he strummed briskly to Travelin’ Band, Fogerty opened that loud-hailer of a voice to gleefully roll back the years.
Drenched in reverb, his voice seemed to take on super-human elements as he belted out his golden Creedence Clearwater Revival choice set picks. Green River, Up Around The Bend and Who’ll Stop The Rain stood out as his young backing band, complete with horn section, vibrantly adrenalised these classic songs.
Keeping it in the family – with his son Shane chopping out slick licks from his guitar – another son Tyler entered the party, wearing a red country-rock suit, to holler on Good Golly Miss Molly and a frantic cover of The Sonics’ Psycho.
Mystic Highway and the heavy reverberated chooglin’ from Fogerty’s re-patriated Rickenbacker on Born On The Bayou arguably stole the show.
However, smacking a little too much of Las Vegas cabaret, the incongruous New Orleans style musical jamboree from the horn section as they left the stage to march around the audience distracted somewhat from a superb set as Fogerty took a well-deserved breather.
Nevertheless, normal service was resumed when the Quo covered Rockin’ All Over The World chugged out of the pristine sound system to re-stoke up his mostly fiery set.
Fogerty’s chart-topping Centerfield album was represented by a killer The Old Man Down The Road and an early set take on Rock and Roll Girls to remind of a long overdue desire for new solo material.
The evening’s class A entertainment was wrapped up with Bad Moon Rising and Proud Mary just beating the 10:55 pm curfew as the arena emptied with the buzz of highly satisfied punters who witnessed two magnificent sets that will rightly go down in rock legend.