Photos by Carl Scheffel
If Rod Stewart were Italian, he’d probably look a lot like Steve Conte, who bears more than a passing resemblance to the UK rocker. Conte and his cohorts—brother John on bass, Andy York on guitar, Andy Burton on keys and Rich Pagano, who organized the event, on drums—did a fine job of standing in for Stewart and the musicians with whom he recorded the songs we know by heart.
Conte confessed that the day before the show he had “no voice,” but what might have been a liability turned into an asset, adding the perfect raspy quality to his delivery. From the first number, “Twisting the Night Away,” Conte seemed entirely at home with the material. “You Wear It Well,” in particular, was delightful.
The band played the Faces’ “Ooh La La,” with Pagano handling the vocals and keyboard magic from Burton, and both “The Shape of Things” and “Ain’t Superstitious” from Truth, the Jeff Beck Group’s masterpiece. On these, York ‘s guitar proved as exciting as Beck’s was back in the day. His intro and slide guitar on “Gasoline Alley” was spare and elegant, and he and Conte put on a thrilling guitar duel at the end of the gorgeous “People Get Ready.”
Rhythm section John Conte and Pagano have played in a power trio together for years, so they were skin-tight and kept the 12-song set moving along. It’s always fun to watch the Conte brothers exercising their musical ESP, and on this night, there was another Conte in the house, Steve’s seven-year-old son Zia, who came onstage (wearing ear protection) for the “Hot Legs” encore.