Review and Photos by Craig Hunter Ross
The Steve Miller Band returned to The Filene Center at Wolf Trap, Vienna, Virginia, for what has become an anxiously awaited annual highlight of the gorgeous outdoor amphitheater’s summer season schedule. The Space Cowboy had landed just outside of the nation’s capital for the first of two weekend shows.
As the opening run to “Jungle Love” pumped through the sound system, the full scale Miller logo graphic curtain dropped to the stage floor, revealing brand new staging that can only be described as a “visual earful”.
A glance over to stage right reveals Jacob Peterson on guitar, alongside Kenny Lee Lewis on bass. There’s Gordy Knudston on drums, Joseph Wooten keyboards and of course Sonny Charles right beside Miller at center stage on backing (and sometimes lead) vocals.
Miller was faithful with his set list of hits the audience expected, with high energy versions of “Jungle Love”, “Take the Money and Run”, “The Stake” and “Abracadabra” in rapid succession to open the show. There were also tributes to his mentors and favorite blues men, including Bobby Bland and Otis Rush sprinkled in among the set.
There would even be an unexpected solo section, just Miller with his acoustic guitar on a stool, offering up such fine tunes as, “Wild Mountain Honey” and “Dance Dance Dance”, resulting in multiple standing ovations.
While the acoustic set undoubtedly afforded both Miller and the audience an opportunity to mellow out a bit, it was merely the calm before the storm as the full band returned for a raucous and extended version of “Living in the USA”, appropriately dedicated to the men and women of the Armed Forces.
Without hesitation, the band would take it home with “Jet Airliner”, “The Joker” and “Rock’n Me”; all of which had fans and even the venue staff up and dancing in the aisles. An encore set including “Swingtown” and “Space Cowboy” echoed into the night as fans made their way home.
After over forty years in the music business, be it in the studio or on the stage, Steve Miller is still at the top of his game.
So, if you hear The Steve Miller Band is coming to a venue near you, call the box office and don’t walk there, take your money and run!