I wasn’t even aware of this Loggins & Messina reunion tour until I stumbled across the DVD on the web a few months ago. I figured, hell, I’ve enjoyed these guys enough to thrown down fifteen bucks to check out what all the fuss is about. Besides, I’ve been listening to too much metal lately and its a good time to mellow out some. This great partnership began around 1971 when Kenny Loggins, still just an aspiring young songwriter, approached the former Buffalo Springfield and Poco member, Jim Messina, to produce his first record. The resulting album was released in 1972 under the moniker of Kenny Loggins with Jim Messina Sittin’ In. By the release of their second album, later that very same year, they were now officially Loggins & Messina. After five successful studio albums, released over a brief five year run, they officially disbanded in 1976.
Early on, I was more of a fan of Kenny Loggins’ solo work than I was Loggins & Messina. His third solo album, Keep The Fire, produced one of my favorite songs in "This Is It", which inspired me to check out his previous work, including all the great stuff with Messina. During my peak classic-rock and heavy metal period of the 70’s, the country-folk-rock flavor of Loggins & Messina was a little too country and folky for my taste, but I still managed to enjoy the jazz-rock fusion of "Angry Eyes" and the acoustic-pop beauty of "Danny’s Song" and "House At Pooh Corner". "Danny’s Song" was one of the first acoustic finger-picked songs I ever attempted to learn. Over time, my Kiss and Aerosmith albums found themselves sharing more of my attention with the likes of Loggins and Messina, and other more diverse musical styles.
Close enough to call it 30 years later, Kenny Loggins and Jim Messina decided to have another go at it in 2005, kicking things off with the release of a new "best of" collection, titled Sittin’ In Again, and following up with a 47-night summer tour. Live Sittin’ In Again was filmed in their hometown of Santa Monica, California, at the beautiful outdoor Santa Monica Bowl amphitheater, during one of two nights they played there in July. Both of these frontmen were 57 years old at the time of this show, and the differences in appearance between now and, say, the 1973 Midnight Special bonus footage are quite dramatic and pretty darn amusing. Messina is a few pounds over his fighting weight now and is hardly recognizable behind his pair of dark sunglasses and receding hairline. Loggins is still as skinny as a teenage super-model, but is now much more conservatively groomed than his hippy days of the past. I almost mistook him for some new Muppet character during that ’73 footage, with the long, straight hair, and that huge mountain-man beard covering about 90 percent of his boyish face.
But seriously, to the fans who waited 30 years for this tour, Loggins and Messina seem genuinely thrilled to be performing together again, and come across like they are each others’ biggest fans. There are many genuinely heartfelt moments throughout the show such as when Messina asked Loggins to perform "A Love Song" while he just watched and admired. His comment at the end of the song was "one of my favorite songs… thank you, Kenny," as he joined the audience in applause, clapping his hands way above his head. Kenny responded appreciatively with a simple "thanks Jim."
You could not ask for better live performances of these songs than you get on this DVD. I believe they even surpass most of the performances on their classic 1974 live album, On Stage. The show starts off unassumingly, with Loggins and Messina taking the stage together, acoustic guitars in hand, and sitting next to each other on a couple of stools. It is still daylight out as they launch into the beautiful country-rock chords of "Watching The River Run." It doesn’t take much longer than this first song to establish that their lead and harmony vocals sound better than ever, and that the six-piece band jamming behind them is as good as any they have ever played with.
They allowed the mellow, acoustic mood to sink in for two more songs, treating their faithful fans to gorgeous renditions of "House At Pooh Corner," and "Sailing The Wind." For those of you who only know Kenny Loggins as "the guy who sang on all those 80s movie soundtracks" – remember "I’m Alright," "Footloose," and "Danger Zone" – you need to watch this performance to fully appreciate his amazing talent. Messina has never had the lead vocal prowess of Loggins, but he still sounds great singing his songs such as "Nobody But You," and his harmonies with Loggins are still a thing of beauty.
After a dance-inducing performance of the honky-tonk classic "Your Mama Don’t Dance," they took a short intermission to allow for a set change. When they returned it was finally dark outside and the stage was now decorated with a mercantile general storefront theme, which would remain for the next few songs. A couple of nice surprises were thrown out during this part of the show including Messina’s tribute to Richie Furay, when he sang his Buffalo Springfield classic "Kind Woman." The lyrics to "Same Old Wine" were more relevant than ever now, and Loggins’ ferocious harmonica playing made this lesser-known classic one of the show highlights.
As good as the concert was up to this point, it was really only building up to an amazing climax. The killer slow-grooving jam of "You Need A Man" led right into a tour de force "Vahevala," which created an almost religious revival atmosphere throughout the amphitheater before it finally brought an end to the second set. The encore set began with Messina picking a few notes to tune his guitar and you could tell by the sound that the next song would be "Angry Eyes." Just like with "Vahevala," they cut no corners and performed a gloriously long version with loads of terrific improvisation. They closed out the show with two of their biggest hits, the radio-friendly country-rock jam "Nobody But You" and Loggins’ beautiful acoustic guitar ballad "Danny’s Song." Unfortunately Loggins let the audience sing most of that one, but I guess I can cut them some slack.
The production quality of this DVD was nearly flawless. The DTS 5.1 surround sound mix was one of the best I have ever heard – on par with Fleetwood Mac‘s The Dance and the two Eagles concert DVDs. Each of the many instruments, were talking mandolins, fiddles, Dobros, and EWIs here, rang through clearly and were balanced perfectly within the mix. The widescreen video presentation was clear and sharp enough to make you forget you were staring at a TV screen, and the unobtrusive camera work expertly captured all of the musicians key solos and the wonderful atmosphere of the show. The bonus features consisted of six complete song performances from a 1973 Midnight Special show, which is a marvel to behold especially for those of us who were around to remember that show. Considering the occasion of this DVD, an interview with Loggins and Messina would have been the icing on the cake.
I wasn’t expecting half as much from this release, but it turned out to be easily one of the best concert DVDs of 2005. In the DVD booklet, Pete Fornatale ranks Loggins & Messina right up there with such famous duos as The Everly Brothers and Simon & Garfunkel. After seeing this performance you will see how that is not too far of a stretch. I hope that Loggins and Messina ride this wave a little longer so that those fans who missed this tour get another chance to see this great band again.
Watching the River Run
House at Pooh Corner
Sailin’ the Wind
Long Tail Cat
Listen to a Country Song/Holiday Hotel
Back to Georgia
Trilogy: Lovin’ Me/Make A Woman Feel Wanted/Peace of Mind
Your Mama Don’t Dance
A Love Song
Thinking of You
Same Old Wine
You Need A Man
Nobody But You
Bonus Songs (’73 Midnight Special):
Your Mama Don’t Dance
You Need A Man
Coming to You
Sailin’ In the Wind
Read all of my DVD concert reviews at Roy’s Reviews