Monday, December 12, 2016

Jackie Greene finds perfection in San Juan Capistrano

Jackie Greene performing at the
Coach House on Dec. 11, 2016.
Jackie Greene
Where: The Coach House, San Juan Capistrano, CA
When: Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016
Next: Brooklyn Bowl in Brooklyn, NY on Dec. 14, 2016; the Mystic Theatre in Petaluma, CA on Dec. 29 and 30, 2016

It isn't often an artist is flawless over the length of a full-length concert.

But that is exactly what Jackie Greene and his terrific three-man band displayed during every thrilling twist and turn of a fast-moving and inspiring 100-minute outing at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on Sunday night (Dec. 11, 2016).

An artist able to masterfully craft material blending roots rock, blues, pop, Americana, folk and R&B with authentic ease, the Northern California native displayed virtuoso chops on guitar, keyboards and harmonica across his set, while showcasing lead vocals fully up to the task of delivering his top-tier songs.
From left, drummer Fitz Harris, guitarist Nathan Dale, guitarist
Jackie Greene and bassist Jon Cornell at the Coach House.

Opening with "I Don't Live in a Dream" off his 2008 album Giving Up the Ghost, Greene somehow blended tinges of melancholy pop into the acoustic blues gem. While many artists often get things going on a harder note, Greene and company opted to build to that with the second offering "Medicine" off his outstanding 2010 disc Till The Light Comes. A song that wouldn't be out of place on a Beck disc, "Medicine" was bolstered by an undeniably catchy groove throughout its verses and choruses, Greene also unleashed great lead guitar work during the song.

Greene turned things around quickly again for his third track, the breezy "Another Love Gone Bad," which had the sonic feel of a Grateful Dead song with guitarist Nathan Dale and drummer Fitz Harris adding some sterling vocal harmonies (his band was rounded out by bassist Jon Cornell).

So the night went, with Greene changing it up armed with his superb set of originals, able to move from acoustic to electric guitar, from electric piano to organ when the music or mood demanded it. 

Jackie Greene using slide
One of the most powerful performances of the night came relatively early and courtesy of "Silver Lining," a confessional where Greene sang of the realities and myths of being a musician, of life on the road and following dreams: "Our feet don't touch the ground/I'd like to believe after all this I'd end up a millionaire/But not that's where it's at/Anyway it don't work like that." Armed with his electric guitar, Greene launched into the song with a brief bluesy solo, and continued to feature nuanced and affecting electric guitar work using a slide to enhance the song's theme: "Where's my silver lining," he sang.

Greene pleased long-time fans by reaching back for the infectious "Gone Wanderin'," and "By the Side of the Road, Dressed to Kill," both off his 2002 break-through release Gone Wanderin'. But based on the cheers, and intensity of the audience reaction throughout the set, it is likely every selection was somebody's favorite. There was authentic country ("Light Up Your Window"), straight-up blues ("Seven Jealous Sisters," with Dale and Greene each performing multiple lead guitar solos), beautiful piano-anchored ballads (notably "Shaken" and the exquisite "You Can't Have Bad Luck All the Time"), gospel ("Hallelujah") and Memphis soul ("So Hard To Find My Way," that had Greene working the keyboards and blues harmonica).

Greene's encore was a hard-hitting take on his "Cold Black Devil / 14 Miles," a freewheeling country-blues rocker that allowed Greene and his band to flat-out rock.

Opening the night were the Cordovas, a Nashville-based quartet that mined the sonic territory of the Grateful Dead for 45 minutes, delivering some impressive musicianship, great harmonies and solid original material before closing with a strong take on the Dead's "Truckin'."

Review by Robert Kinsler

Photography courtesy of Bob Steshetz

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