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Review: Dave Mason at the Ohio Theatre
February 1, 2014 - Andy Gray
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Dave Mason joked Friday during his show at the Ohio Theatre that he was going to be stuffed and mounted at the museum – “Like Trigger,” who was movie cowboy Roy Rogers’ horse.
The guitar player isn’t quite ready to be put out to pasture or put on display, based on Friday’s performance.
His current tour is billed as Dave Mason’s Traffic Jam, and the first half of the two-hour show focused on his tenure with Traffic. It was a popular concept (the show nearly was sold out).
In addition to his own songs, the set featured several tracks penned by his former bandmates Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi that he normally doesn’t play live, including a couple Traffic recorded after he left the band in 1970.
“(Roamin Thro’ the Gloamin’ With) 40,000 Headmen,” “You Can All Join In,” “Pearly Queen,” “Heaven Is in Your Mind,” “Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring,” “Medicated Goo” and “Dear Mr. Fantasy” all were warmly received.
“Low Spark of High Heeled Boys” was reworked with a sultry, bluesy arrangement, and “Rock and Roll Stew” had a swampy, southern vibe with keyboard player Tony Patler (who also handled the bass parts from his keyboard) taking the lead vocal originally sung by Winwood.
Mason was backed by a talented three-piece band – Jason Roller on guitar and mandolin and Alvino Bennett on drums – and it’s a good thing, because he let them do a lot of the heavy lifting. Roller took at least as many of the guitar solos as Mason, who was content to play rhythm on a 12-string acoustic for much of the set. And Roller’s and Patler’s harmonies fleshed out some of the songs nicely.
But when Mason strapped on his Fender, he showed he could still dazzle.
He actually seemed more comfortable and animated in the second half of the show, which focused on his solo material. That set opened with “We Just Disagree” and included “Let It Go, Let It Flow,” “Just a Song,” a tribute to the late Capaldi on “How Do I Get to Heaven,” “Shouldn’t Have Took More Than You Gave” (which featured some of his best guitar work) and “Feelin’ Alright,” the best known song from his Traffic tenure.
Mason was an affable, if occasionally scattered host. He told a couple stories and impersonated Bob Dylan singing his “Every Woman.” He also introduced a new song, then got sidetracked and never got around to actually playing it.
The show closed with a fiery rendition of Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” that proved Mason isn’t ready for the taxidermist just yet.
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