Steve Winwood

Steve Winwood (Roxy; 395 capacity; $ 30) Presented by Avalon/KLOS. Band: Winwood, Tim Cansfield, Scott First, Walfredo Reyes, Mike McEvoy, Randall Bramblett, Martin Verdonk, Kevin Robinson, Valerie Chalmers, Emma Whittle. Reviewed June 9, 1997; closes June 11. Musicianship is again paramount in Steve Winwood's latest aggregation, a spiritual throwback --- when this group is peaking --- to "Welcome to the Canteen"era Traffic, a potent brew of folk, jazz, R&B and rock. Yet despite encouraging moments within Winwood's nearly two-hour show, he remains an ineffectual frontman with scarce new material able to snag equal footing with his classics or '80s hits. When this show expands to larger halls, success will rest in the execution of upbeat, familiar numbers. Fortunately his band comes up aces, injecting life in all but the unsalvageable from the new Virgin disc "Junction Seven" (the slow jam "Plenty Lovin' " ) and bringing potent elements to the fore (the "Shotgun" sax on "Roll With It," the Cuban rhythm of "Gotta Get Back to My Baby"). Clearly, Winwood writes material that's fun for the musicians --- they were at their least inspired covering Sly and the Family Stone's "Family Affair" --- and the balance of riff re-creation and improvised moves is admirable. Winwood, 49, can still sparkle behind the keyboard, twisting among the harmonics in his McCoy Tyner-influenced solo on "Low Spark of the High-Heeled Boys" and jubilantly reproducing his youthful efforts in the Spencer Davis Group ("I'm a Man," "Gimme Some Lovin' "). But beyond the mandolin he plays on "Back in the High Life Again," he needs to stay seated. With new single "Spy in the House of Love," which received a buoyantly funky workout Monday, garnering decent airplay, Winwood may well be headed back to the charts for the first time this decade. "Junction Seven," however, is a pale funk recording but it should fare better than "Refugees of the Heart," his album from seven years back that effectively put the brakes on his '80s pop-R&B formula that generated hits and Grammys and established him as an artist capable of crossing a variety of radio formats. In a club setting, though, it's evident some of this new material could have some energy behind it --- as long as Winwood is driving it seated rather than front and center.

With:
Winwood, Tim Cansfield, Scott First, Walfredo Reyes, Mike McEvoy, Randall Bramblett, Martin Verdonk, Kevin Robinson, Valerie Chalmers, Emma Whittle. Reviewed June 9, 1997; closes June 11.

Steve Winwood (Roxy; 395 capacity; $ 30) Presented by Avalon/KLOS. Band: Winwood, Tim Cansfield, Scott First, Walfredo Reyes, Mike McEvoy, Randall Bramblett, Martin Verdonk, Kevin Robinson, Valerie Chalmers, Emma Whittle. Reviewed June 9, 1997; closes June 11. Musicianship is again paramount in Steve Winwood’s latest aggregation, a spiritual throwback — when this group is peaking — to “Welcome to the Canteen”era Traffic, a potent brew of folk, jazz, R&B and rock. Yet despite encouraging moments within Winwood’s nearly two-hour show, he remains an ineffectual frontman with scarce new material able to snag equal footing with his classics or ’80s hits. When this show expands to larger halls, success will rest in the execution of upbeat, familiar numbers. Fortunately his band comes up aces, injecting life in all but the unsalvageable from the new Virgin disc “Junction Seven” (the slow jam “Plenty Lovin’ ” ) and bringing potent elements to the fore (the “Shotgun” sax on “Roll With It,” the Cuban rhythm of “Gotta Get Back to My Baby”). Clearly, Winwood writes material that’s fun for the musicians — they were at their least inspired covering Sly and the Family Stone’s “Family Affair” — and the balance of riff re-creation and improvised moves is admirable. Winwood, 49, can still sparkle behind the keyboard, twisting among the harmonics in his McCoy Tyner-influenced solo on “Low Spark of the High-Heeled Boys” and jubilantly reproducing his youthful efforts in the Spencer Davis Group (“I’m a Man,” “Gimme Some Lovin’ “). But beyond the mandolin he plays on “Back in the High Life Again,” he needs to stay seated. With new single “Spy in the House of Love,” which received a buoyantly funky workout Monday, garnering decent airplay, Winwood may well be headed back to the charts for the first time this decade. “Junction Seven,” however, is a pale funk recording but it should fare better than “Refugees of the Heart,” his album from seven years back that effectively put the brakes on his ’80s pop-R&B formula that generated hits and Grammys and established him as an artist capable of crossing a variety of radio formats. In a club setting, though, it’s evident some of this new material could have some energy behind it — as long as Winwood is driving it seated rather than front and center.

Steve Winwood

Roxy; 395 capacity; $30

Production: Presented by Avalon/KLOS

Cast: Winwood, Tim Cansfield, Scott First, Walfredo Reyes, Mike McEvoy, Randall Bramblett, Martin Verdonk, Kevin Robinson, Valerie Chalmers, Emma Whittle. Reviewed June 9, 1997; closes June 11.

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