Sunday, March 14, 2010

Stand up, Leon!

I don't get out much but when Leon Russell comes to town, well, that's a gimmie. He was the musical driving force behind Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour in the 70s, and he went on to have his own illustrious career after that in that twilight zone between rock, country and folk, including having a featured role in George Harrison's Concert for Bangladesh in 1971. The title of this post, of course, comes from George's admonition to Leon during the concert while he introduced him to the Madison Square Garden crowd.

He came to the State Theatre in Falls Church on Friday night, and I was there along with a bunch of other old rockers who don't know the 70s are long gone. After the backup band played, Leon came out with a cane and sat down at the keyboards.

He played many of his old standbys, including his rollicking rendition of Jumpin' Jack Flash and the haunting ballad Humming Bird. His band members left the stage while he sang The Island Song alone in his raspy Oklahoma twang, then returned for a rousing finish to Wild Horses.

I last saw him at the State Theatre in March, 2006. Back then he had a classic encore routine. He sat at the piano, told the crowd to imagine he'd just gotten up and left and was now back and so, this was going to be the encore as he launched into Delta Lady. This time he actually stood up and then sat back down for an encore, Prince of Peace Returning.

Leon, ten feet away onstage with his face totally obscured by his gigantic white beard, cowboy hat and aviator style dark glasses, kept the crowd on the dance floor swaying and moving with his rocking performance. Watch out now, take care, beware of soft shoe shufflers, dancing down the sidewalks...


Dori said...

I would love to see Leon Russell in concert! The 70s are long gone? Seems like only yesterday. :-)

Anne said...

I saw Leon perform about 10 years ago at the Port O' Call in Nags Head. It was phenomenal! Glad he's still at it and you got to see him.