Keb’ Mo’ Band
Live @ Tipitina’s – May 21, 2015
By Katherine Satarin
Compton native Keb’ Mo’ brought the blues to Tipitina’s last Thursday night for a funky and fresh showdown in the Crescent City. A small yet comfortable crowd swayed and admired during the three-time Grammy Award winning bluesman’s set, as he passed through New Orleans before kicking off his upcoming summer tour. Keb showcased his deep knowledge of the blues that has defined his 20-year career.
The show began slowly with an acoustic “Angelina” and “More For Your Money” backed by a single bass player. The tempo then surged in “Rita” by adding keys, drums, and a wild yet calming guitar solo. Next was “Riley B. King,” a reverent celebration of and truly breathtaking ode to the recently passed mentor and friend of Keb from his Grammy Award-winning album Keep it Simple. Next was “Let your Light Shine,” a deeply elemental song that conjured a wildly inspired audience reaction. “Somebody Hurt You” then provided a deeply moving performance and gradually gained momentum up until a roar of drums at its close. Following this was another “silly song,” as Keb used to describe an earlier song, titled “Government Cheese.” This rambling tune, a crowd pleaser inspiring lots of laughs, incorporated an electrifying synthesizer played simultaneously by the keyboardist. “Worst is Yet to Come” rocked the crowd next with its hip-shaking rhythm and bold harmonica interludes.
We then relaxed slightly with the slow, emotion-conjuring “Life is Beautiful,” which preached to us about the existential beauty and finiteness of life. Keb’ Mo’ songwriting magic struck again in this one. “The Whole Enchilada ” and “One Friend” gave us a look into the raw sincerity in this 63-ear-old’s voice, which still sounds soft as silk. “More Than One Way Home” refreshed the audience with its up-tempo delta blues rhythm, accompanied once more by the synthesizer.
“We gotta play the sappy shit just this once” Keb acknowledged before diving into “Shave yo’ legs,“ playing a beautifully dynamic version of the frequently more reserved ballad. A thorny yet smooth “Perpetrual Blues Machine” segued the mood with its never-ending guitar licks and simple harmonica rambles, followed by a toe-tapping and similarly upbeat “Old Me Better,” a tune born from deep New Orleans influences and sounds. It was hard to tell the true mood of the next tune, “Dangerous Mood,” which lay somewhere between a menacing ode to the future or a lustful beckoning of desire. The powerful lyrics conjured up a sheepish grin across his face as he belted the words.
Beginning the end of the show was “The Door,” a jovial chorale that reflects Keb’s gospel roots; then, a boisterious rendition of Big Joe Turner’s “Shake, Rattle and Roll”. The band closed out with “She Wants to Dance” and a mouth-dropping slide guitar solo. The audience surged with hypnotic pleasure as everyone cheered for the musicians exiting the stage.
If Keb’ Mo’ is coming anywhere near you on his North American summer tour, which kicked off May 24th in Dallas, Texas, I nearly order you to attend. Guaranteed time well spent for any music lover. Keep your eyes peeled for his most beautiful Gibson Signature Bluesmaster guitar, a powerful tool for this craft master. It made a gallant appearance for my lively New Orleans crowd on Thursday.