Why does one go to see a legend perform? Optimism or curiosity? Dave Mason, founding member (with Steve Winwood) of the 60's band Traffic, answered a few questions with his performance at Temple B'nai Jeshurun.
He's obviously not the 22-year-old kid who recorded "Feelin ' Alright" in 1968. He's lost the hair and gained some weight, but he still has that guitar and a repertoire that may surprise you when you realize how many of his songs you know.
"Only You Know And I Know,, "Every Woman," "40.000 Headmen," "World in Changes," and "We Just Disagree," to name a few, were played more than competently by his talented touring band but lacked a certain spark. Mason is not a showman, but he commanded attention when he got into his solos and started to really get into the song. He left the showmanship to bassist Gerald Johnson, whose antics were amusing but a bit tiresome after awhile. Johnson got his shot at vocals with Jimmy Reed's "Baby What You Want Me To Do."
The newer songs in Mason's songbook were also blues tunes. One of the few covers was Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower," done in the style of long-gone friend Jimi Hendrix. While his voice has lost something, his guitar playing has not. There was a lot for a fan to enjoy in a solid show that did not reach for new heights, but did not tarnish the legend, either.
Pete Fornatale, long time New York DJ, opened the show with a multi-media presentation based loosely on his new book about Woodstock titled "Back To The Garden." While he was not actually at the legendary event, he reported on it and has enough background trivia and interesting clips to provide a time capsule view of the era.
High points were a very amusing video that claimed to provide the actual words that Joe Cocker sang during classic his performance of "With a Little Help from My Friends". (You can see it here. Also, a brilliant juggling act that he somehow related to the Beatles not being at Woodstock is also worth watching (See that here).
Both performers signed books and memorabilia in a pre-show get-together for premium ticket holders. Mason also autographed a guitar that was auctioned off for the benefit of a charity that he supports, "Work Vessels For Veterans" (more info here). Proceeds from the concert were earmarked by Temple B’nai Jeshurun for various local community-based charitable organizations and nonprofit groups.
Just a last note on the venue: In what is starting to look like a trend, the show was held in the main sanctuary at Temple B'Nai Jeshurun. You can't argue with the acoustics in a room like that. But for anyone who grew up going to temple on shabbos, it's a bit odd to see an aging Englishman and his electric band singing "Dear Mr. Fantasy" in front of an ark full of Torahs.
Not, I suppose, that there's anything wrong with that.