Concert Review: Jonny Lang makes history

I’ll get right to the point: just buy Jonny Lang’s DVD when it comes out. You won’t be disappointed.

The 23-year-old blues rock phenomenon recorded his May 7 show at the Coronado Theatre for a live DVD that will be released later this year. Those in attendance were not only part of music history, but also witnessed Lang at his best.

Despite the ever-present film crew, the Minnesota native played to the crowd, not the cameras. While short on words, he thanked the audience for coming out and said it was great to be back in Rockford. This is his third Rockford appearance in the last three years.

Much of Lang’s material came from his most recent album, Long Time Coming, but he also drew heavily from earlier releases including Wander This World, and his breakthrough record, Lie To Me. The pool hall anthem, “Rack ‘Em Up,” proved to be a crowd favorite and demonstrated Lang’s versatile nature. Backed by a thumping bass line, he launched into a guitar solo and then vocally matched each note simultaneously. Along with this impressive number, the crowd danced to thought-provoking rockers like “Give Me Up Again” and Lang’s current single, “Red Light.”

He also performed a few ballads to vary the show’s pace. “Irish Angel,” penned by keyboard player Bruce McCabe, was a beautiful example of how a slow song can be sensitive without being overwrought. Additionally, Lang continued to showcase his talented band on a cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Livin’ For The City,” a social commentary that examines the struggles African Americans routinely encounter. The song features a guitar/saxophone duel that would have coaxed a standing ovation had the crowd not already been on its feet.

Toward the end of the show, Lang announced, “We’ve got time for one more” before breaking into his most popular hit, “Lie To Me.” The wah-guitar driven number was a great way to conclude the energetic evening.

Ingram Hill, a four-piece rock outfit from Memphis, Tenn. preceded Lang. The band delivered a tight, nearly flawless 45-minute set that one would not normally expect from an opening act. Ingram Hill played several tracks off its just released CD, June’s Picture Show, including “Will I Ever Make It Home” and “The Captain.” The group combines flowing melodies with frenzied guitar solos to create a unique, distinctive sound.

Jonny Lang needed an extraordinary performance for his DVD, and he certainly accomplished his goal. Luckily, other fans around the world will have the opportunity to relive the excitement Rockford fans experienced in person.

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