TX:Presented by MCA Concerts. Reviewed June 1, 1996. Perfect daytime temperatures hovering in the 80s and 90s may explain the disappointing half-capacity crowd at a rare four-act show filled with a satisfying and eclectic mix of musical Americana. Headliner Robert Cray supplied his usually reliable vocals and tasty guitar licks, and Little Feat rolled out the usual staples, but opener David Lindley supplied the most diverse and surprising set. Cray’s guitar chops are models of efficiency. By no means are they extraordinary, yet they consistently get his point across and embellish his boyish charm. As an extension, Cray’s light show exhibited those same qualities — a bit of flash mixed with understated, yet effective, shadings.
Little Feat showcased many of the songs associated with late founder Lowell George — the powerful opener “Oh Atlanta,” a jazzed-up “Dixie Chicken” and a barely recognizable “Willin’ “– but let vocalist Shawn Murphy shine on an assortment of Feat numbers in the middle of the strong set. A leather-lunged singer along the lines of Etta James, Murphy powered her way through “Drivin’ Blind,””Cadillac Hotel, “Pretty Good Love” (a duet with percussionist Sam Clayton) and her highlight, “Takin’ Another Man’s Place.”
J.J. Cale, making a rare live Los Angeles appearance, added grit that would have gone down easier if notfor a very weak sound and an unsure backing band. Among others, “Cajun Moon” and the instrumental shuffle “T-Bone” lost their subtle punch, but Cale closed his set with a rousing “Mama Don’t Allow” (a great exit song that captured his quirky wit) and the encores “Cocaine” and “Crazy Mama.”
Lindley, the former fiddler and guitarist behind Jackson Browne in the 1970s, squeezed out the most music in the time allotted with Jordanian percussionist Hani Naser. Lindley and Naser dazzled the earlybirds with “Why Did,” Bob Dylan’s “Well Well” and Cale’s seductive and sad “Tijuana.”
Oddly, the sound problems Cale experienced were nonexistent in Lindley’s segment, prompting him to comment that it was the best he’d ever experienced. Their exotic mixture of American and Middle Eastern folk was presented so cohesively and with such inspiration that the duo drew a well-deserved standing ovation from a crowd clearly there to celebrate the seasoned chops and familiarity of the musicians showcased.