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Postby NEONMOONY » Sun Jul 12, 2009 6:21 pm

A friend of mine called on short notice yesterday afternoon and asked if I wanted to see Leon Russell last night. I hadn't heard much from him in ages other than to see his name producing somebody like the Tractors or Willie Nelson and had no idea of what to expect. He played at a very nice, relatively new, relatively small venue on the Chicago far south side called the Beverly Center.

His vocals were weaker than years ago but he had a band that was real tight, with fewer pieces than he had in the Joe Cocker days, but still very Leon wall of soundish. Every song had the Russell trademarks of lots of intricate changes and Honky Tonk keys. The tempo changed up often, the drum beats had lots of extra pops in there, every song had lots stops and rises and falls of intensity etc.

His guitar player did a nice lone solo slide version of "Walkin' Blues" on an SG. His "other " keyboard player, who appeared to be blind, performed a solo blues number on a Rhodes sounding keyboard.

Basically, they came across as a very tight, thick sounding blues rock bar band. He didn't spend any time talkin' either. It was almost like a two hour medley as each song just followed right into the next one, often without separation. Virtually everyone I could see was movin' and there were even a couple of ladies that had to stand up and shake.

At the end of the show, when everyone was cheering and whistling, he just stepped away from his keyboard for a second. He stepped back up to the mic and said, "This is the part where were supposed to walk off stage and then, surprisingly return to play a couple more numbers. Well, I'm old and don't want to do all that walkin' so I just sit back down and play a couple more old rock n roll songs." The crowd loved it.

Although it was a last minute idea, I'm glad we went. It was a real good time, very party like.
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Postby jeffl » Mon Jul 13, 2009 6:06 pm

When I last heard Leon about 5 years ago he had a son playing drums and I think another son playing guitar. They were excellent musicians. I heard his "small band", without any horn section. He was triggering the horn parts from his keyboards. He acquitted himself extremely well at that gig, if you could get past the looped horns.
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Postby birddog » Tue Jul 14, 2009 12:12 pm

I used to love Leon. Saw him 3-4 years ago & he wasn't as good as I remembered him but did ok. Many years of hard living I guess. He couldn't walk that well & used a cane. He had his daughter in his band and she was pretty good. He did no encore.

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