Thursday, August 7, 2008

Robben Ford

When: Sunday, June 13, 2008 • Where: DakotaWho: Robben Ford, voice and lead guitar; Travis Carlton, bass; Toss Panos, drums

Ford and Charlie Musselwhite share the billing tonight at the Dakota but never the stage (though early promos said they would do a set together, and they have performed together in the past). For the 7:00 show, we hear that Ford came on first, then Musselwhite. The 9:30 started with Musselwhite. Now it’s Ford.

Someone calls out “Rockin’ Robin!” and he says “Oh, please, not tonight.” The same boneheads keep requesting “Talk to Your Daughter” over and over throughout the evening. People, get a clue. He does not want to play that song.

The music is painfully and unnecessarily loud (thanks, Deborah, for the ear plugs, which will help to prevent me from becoming a stone-deaf old lady) but definitely rockin’. We hear “Lateral Climb,” about the problems of credit-card debt and the struggle to get ahead (“Try to make a little progress in what’s looking like a lateral climb/Put behind me my spendthrift ways”), “Don’t Deny Your Love,” “Prison of Love,” and “Riley B. King,” a tribute to “a king without a castle or a crown” and “a life sincerely lived,” written with Keb’ Mo’, someone I’m dying to hear live.

Ford tells us that his bassist is the son of Larry Carlton and “plays his ass off.” So does Panos in an impressive and thundering drum solo. So does Ford, switching guitars and giving us what I swear is a piece of “Smoke in the Water.”

It’s so loud! Arena rock loud! Even with the ear plugs! Dear Dakota, you have hosted the tender piano-key caresses of Gonzalo Rubalcaba and the soft-spoken ruminations of Patricia Barber. Can’t someone on the sound board notice the size of the room and keep it down just a bit? Bring on the blues, the fusion, even the rock, but stop trying to make my ears bleed.

Ford turns political with “Peace on My Mind.” “The call to war is blind man leading blind/Every day more and more I’ve got peace on my mind…. When fire meets fire, we burn away the common ground.” And ends with “Supernatural,” a beautiful song about being beautiful.

Photos by John Whiting.

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