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Concert Reviews:
Gary Clark Jr. turns Meadow Brook into his "Land" on Sunday night

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

Posted: Monday, August 5, 2019

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ROCHESTER HILLS -- "I didn't know we had this kind of love out here," Gary Clark Jr. told a Meadow Brook Amphitheatre crowd early during his show there on Sunday night. "I appreciate it."

And the feeling was certainly mutual from the small (less than half-full) but still exuberant crowd.

Hot off a Lollapalooza festival show in Chicago the night before, the Texas guitar hero and his band tore through its nearly two-hour show -- with at least a couple of planned songs left aside when curfew hit -- with tight, ferocious intensity. Clark has, of course, amassed a small but potent body of work during the past seven years, but his focus Sunday when on his latest album, the socio-political focused "This Land," which came out during February. The stage backdrop was a montage from the album's cover, while 10 of Sunday's 16 songs came from the album; Most were delivered in quick, faithful fashion though Clark and company took the opportunity to stretch out on the Marvin Gaye-styled "Feed the Babies" and the reggae-tinged "Feelin' Like a Million."

Clark, sporting a trademark hat that cast a shadow over his eyes throughout the show, proved a generous bandleader, giving fellow guitarist King Zapata and keyboardist Jon Deas plenty of spots to shine. But he was still, of course, the focal point, with searing solos during the opening "Bright Lights," "Ain't Messin' Around," "I Got My Eyes on You (Locked & Loaded)" and "This Land's" title track. "Got to Get Up" breathed some funky fire, while the angsty "Gotta Get Into Something" was a convincing stab at propulsive punk rock.

The show-stopping moment, meanwhile, was "Our Love" -- slow, soulful and backlit, with an epic Clark solo that started with restrained, jazzy chording and built into a searing jam that almost visibly elevated the Meadow Brook pavilion.

It was the kind of show that could have gone on and on, and there was genuine disappointment at the end, when Clark announced he'd been told he had just six minutes left and charged into a cover of the Beatles' "Come Together" -- which also served as theme-capper to "This Land" discourse. "Next time I'll come back for three hours," Clark declared. "I will not be contained any longer, people."

And Clark's Meadow Brook faithful did not contain their enthusiasm for that promise, either.

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