Taylor Hicks wrapped up his two-day stint in Washington with an energetic performance on April 28 at the Snoqualmie Casino. Despite the band’s tight schedule (having flown out of the storms in Alabama to barely make their previous night’s show in Mount Vernon) they put on an excellent show. There is no doubt Hicks is a born showman. With his concerts, fans get Taylor Hicks the entertainer, the musician, and the bandleader.
The set included several covers, like the show opener “Compared to What.” Hicks showcased his versatility on the 1973 Timmy Thomas hit “Why Can’t We Live Together,” as he put down his guitar for a turn on Hammond B-3 organ. He also worked in several tracks from his most recent album, The Distance, including a very moving “Maybe You Should,” “Nineteen,” and crowd favorite “Seven Mile Breakdown.” His version of “I Live on a Battlefield” featured a stunning solo from lead guitarist Sam Gunderson.
Hicks also performed several songs from two of his previous albums, including “The Deal” and “Just to Feel That Way.” A particular highlight of every Taylor Hicks show is his interaction with the band. And on this night he traded licks with keyboardist Brian Less, using his harmonica to create a musical dialogue between them. During the aforementioned “Seven Mile Breakdown,” which closed the set, Hicks threw in a little of Jackson Browne’s “Running On Empty” before a blistering, rave-up finale. Sax and flute player Jeff Lopez was a standout during that number, playing both his alto and sopranino saxes at the same time. A pair of American Idol favorites received a particularly strong audience response: Stevie Wonder’s “Living For the City,” and an encore of The Doobie Brothers’ “Takin’ It To The Streets.”
Hicks seems at his happiest while on the road, performing for enthusiastic audiences. He genuinely enjoys interacting with fans. After every show he comes out to sign autographs and take pictures with everyone who lines up to meet him. And on this night, the crowd was substantial. By the time he’d reached the end of the line, the on-sale supply of CDs and shirts had sold out.
As it was, Hicks had a very limited amount of free time as he was scheduled to catch a flight home to Alabama, where the following day he appeared on a local telethon to raise money for tornado victims in his home state.
Hicks plans to tour for most of the summer while he prepares to record his next album. I had a chance to speak with him before the show about his upcoming plans, and he said the new album will be “roots oriented.” He described the vibe as “Jackson Browne meets Zac Brown.” Hicks went on to say that his goal is to make good, organic music that is true to himself, which is also an apt description of his live shows.