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Concert Reviews:
Dave Mason lets it flow at Sound Board

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

Posted: Monday, March 9, 2020

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DETROIT -- Dave Mason calls his band's latest road trip the Feelin' Alright Tour 2020. And that's exactly how fans at Sound Board in the MotorCity Casino Hotel did feel after the quartet's show there on Sunday, March 8.

Part concert and part history lesson, the 85-mnute set celebrated Mason's 50-plus years in music, as a solo artist, side man and band member. Over the course of 13 songs he took the audience on sonic travelogue through the late 60s and early 70s, from his role as a founding member of Traffic -- which earned him Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction back in 2004 -- through moments playing with Jimi Hendrix.

And at least one solo during each song proved that, at age 73, he's still a blindingly good guitarist who can stand toe to toe with all the six-string icons of his rock 'n' roll generation.

Mason started Sunday's show where he began, with a trio of Traffic favorites -- “Pearly Queen," "Rock and Roll Stew" and "Dear Mr. Fantasy." That he didn't write them, and wasn't even part of the band for the middle song, didn't matter; Mason took ownership of them simply because -- as he explained before another cover, of Blind Faith's "Can't Find My Way Home" (sung by guitarist John Sambataro) -- they're good songs. He also treated Traffic's "The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys," which Mason dubbed "A.D." (After Dave) to a bluesy, jazz-tinged arrangement that broken into the more familiar cadence only at the very end.

Mason, in fact, trod surprisingly lightly on his "own" repertoire. He only played one song, "We Just Disagree," from his platinum "Let It Flow" album, leaning instead on his first solo album "Alone Together," celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, for the likes of "Look at You Look at Me," "Shouldn't Have Took More than You Gave" and "Only You Know and I Know." Everything in the show had some personal connection, however, and he spoke nostalgically about opening for Blind Faith while he was with Delaney & Bonnie and about his love of his chosen instrument ("It's all I ever wanted to do...play guitar," he noted) before covering Santo & Johnny's instrumental "Sleep Walk" while historic photos and video footage scrolled by on the screen behind the stage.

Mason finished with his Traffic hit "Feelin' Alright" and encored with his uptempo treatment of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" (he played acoustic guitar on the Jimi Hendrix Experience version), then came out to autograph memorabilia after the show -- so, he quipped, his wife could buy patio furniture. After all these years Mason indeed knows how to tell his story, and on Sunday it was certainly easy to go with the, er, flow.

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