He’s freakin’ hot. Those words were overheard more than once at the Kenny Loggins concert on Friday, September 2, 2011 at the Wild Horse Pass Casino in Chandler, Arizona. Being as the phrase was uttered by female members of the audience, perhaps they weren’t referring to the fact that Loggins’ voice is still incredible after all these years or that when he wants to, on songs such as the Cream version of “Crossroads,” he can play a mean guitar. As evident by the line of females to the stage during Loggins’ singing of “Celebrate Me Home,” and his kind indulgence to shake their hand, it is clear that Kenny Loggins can make the ladies swoon every bit as much these days as he has done his entire career.
It was a night covering his entire career, from Loggins’ beginnings when he wrote songs in high school such as “Danny’s Song,” and “House at Pooh Corner,” updated to “Return to Pooh Corner,” to his most recent gig, the trio Blue Sky Riders (more on them later). A brief video montage introduced Loggins with a much younger Kenny Loggins singing “Danny’s Song” on the video screen morphing into Loggins appearing on stage continuing the song. The strength of Loggins’ voice carried the first two acoustic numbers and it appeared that it was going to be a night of mellowness as the opening chords of “Your Mama Don’t Dance” were also introduced by Loggins’ acoustic guitar. That didn’t last long. Quickly the song built up and before you knew it, Loggins’ virtuoso band, Scott Bernard on guitar, Tommy Brechtlein on drums and Shem von Schroeck on bass and keyboards were off and running.
From there, Loggins dared to venture outside his onstage relationship with Stevie Nicks and according to Loggins, for the first time ever, sang “Whenever I Call You Friend,” with another woman, Blue Sky Riders band mate, Georgia Middleman. We in Phoenix love hometown girl Stevie, but it isn’t too hard to love the effervescent Georgia as well. With “Angry Eyes,” the audience got the first real glimpse of what Loggins’ band can do, with Bernard’s guitar solos taking the place of the saxophone solos the Loggins and Messina version offers. It worked well. As if his singing hadn’t captivated the audience enough, between songs Loggins was the story teller throughout the night, humorously explaining the whys behind each of his songs.
The full band was again showcased on “Leap of Faith,” with a nice interplay between von Schroeck on keyboards and Bernard’s guitar work. However, it was not until near the end of the show, with “I’m Alright,” that the males in the audience finally came to their feet to bop (or whatever AARP citizens do when they dance to music) along with their female companions who had been up long before. Although the show could have easily closed with that song, it was nicely ended with “Conviction of the Heart.”
Well not quite. There were still two more movie soundtrack hits to cover and the encore delivered. The house finally was rocking with “Danger Zone” and “Footloose,” with a guilty pleasure exhilaration received from watching the video of Kevin Bacon’s dancing from the movie accompany the song live. The night closed with the powerful “Forever,” a song that may even be better now without its original ‘80’s electric drum sound.
Although Loggins may be “way too old to start a band,” that’s what he has done along with Nashville veterans Gary Burr and Georgia Middleman in forming their trio Blue Sky Riders who opened the show with a six song set. This trio is the perfect blend of three part harmonies. Watching Loggins as the third member of the group, he seemed rejuvenated by playing and singing with his new partners. Although, given its member’s backgrounds, the group may be dismissed as country, they are more adult contemporary sounding than one might guess. The collaboration is a logical step in Loggins’ career. Word must have gotten out that Loggins was part of this group as almost the entire audience was seated when Blue Sky Riders began their set. Any late arrivals would have been disappointed of what they had missed. Although the band dispersed lead vocal duties equally, Blue Sky Riders might become Georgia and those other guys. Despite Loggins’ amazing catalog of music, there may come the day when this band plays the longer set.
For two hours and five minutes, the audience got a healthy dose of Kenny Loggins (thirty with Blue Sky Riders, ninety five as a solo act.). His voice remains as strong as ever, still able to consistently hit the high notes, and one forgets the range his music covers until you hear it laid out in one nice retrospective bundle. Although Loggins seems as youthful as ever, his audience may have grayed abit. I’m just thankful there wasn’t a deluge of undergarments thrown up on stage
Kenny Loggins: Danny’s Song | Return to Pooh Corner | Your Mama Don’t Dance/Youngblood/Chain of Fools/Fever/Kiss Medley | Whenever I Call You Friend | Angry Eyes | This Is It | The Real Thing | Celebrate Me Home | Leap of Faith | I’m Alright | Conviction of the Heart | Encore: Danger Zone | Footloose | Crossroads | Forever
Blue Sky Riders: I’m A Rider (Finally Home) acoustic version | Another Spring | How’s That Working For You? | Little Victories | Dream | Encore: I’m A Rider (Finally Home) full band version