Winwood’s current tour has been aimed at smaller, more intimate venues, less than 2000 seats, and brought his four-piece touring band to Long Island’s The Space at Westbury venue to a capacity crowd. He and Richard Bailey on drums, Jose Neto on guitar, Paul Booth on saxophone and Edson “Cafe” da Silva on percussion formed a tight unit, weaving through what seemed like a “Winwood’s Greatest Hits” tour.
As the band exploded into the opening notes, Steve Winwood, seated behind his famous Hammond B3 organ, casually waved to the crowd, and with his inimitable voice supported by the 1500+ faithful, sang “My pad is very messy, got whiskers on chin….” “I’m A Man” set the tone for the entire evening, followed by the Buddy Miles classic “Them Changes,” a song Winwood reprised during the shows at Madison Square Garden, along with guitarist Eric Clapton, to honor the passing of Miles.
The multi-instrumentalist finally stepped out from behind the keyboard and played guitar on the iconic “Can’t Find My Way Home” from Blind Faith’s only LP. Many Traffic songs were represented including “Pearly Queen,” “Glad” (instrumental from “John Barleycorn Must Die”), “Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys,” “Light Up Or Leave Me Alone” and the crowd favorite, the encore of “Dear Mr. Fantasy.” The twelve-minute jam on “Light Up” showed the band at its musical best, with each member taking a solo. Although Winwood has had many solo hits throughout the ’80s and ’90s, he performed only a couple tracks of his own, a rousing version of “Higher Love” with every audience member singing each line, and “Dirty City,” from his 2008 release Nine Lives.
Less than a dozen songs were performed during the two hour set, many songs being extended jams. I’m sure each audience member can think of at least a dozen more songs they wished the band had played; a common demand with artists of a 50-year career who consistently churn out great music. As the closer, “Gimme Some Lovin’,” states, we are all “so glad we made it”.