Several factors go into making concerts at the House of Blues so much fun. First, there's the staff. In all the many times I've been to the HOB, I've always experienced nothing but helpful and smiling faces. Even the security detail is friendly. Another of my favorite aspects of the HOB would be the lighting. Without being overwhelming or distracting, the lighting is like another band member — adding to the overall experience.
But more than anything else, there's the diversity of the crowd. Whether you're there to see Mavis and Taj, John Mayer, or the North Mississippi All Stars, you'll find the "just 21" kids mingling with the over-the-hill gang, as well as every age in between. And this show was no different.
Mavis Staples (Blues Music Awards nominee for Soul Blues Female Artist of the Year) was on the stage by the time I walked in. Thankfully, she'd just started and I was able to take in her fantastic performance. Among the songs included in her set were the stunning "The Weight", "Have A Little Faith", and "God Is Not Sleeping." "God Is Not Sleeping" brought tears to the eyes of many, including Mavis herself. She followed up the heartfelt songs with a rousing version of "Respect Yourself" and then proceeded to close the show with an extended version of "I'll Take You There," the Staples Singers hit from 1972.
The closing song featured serious jams from Staples' band. Brian Parker, on drums, had a chance to show what he's made of. What I loved most about Parker's solo was the simplicity of the whole thing. I can appreciate the more complex solo as much as the next guy, but there's something to be said for a straightforward and energetic presentation, which is exactly what he delivered. Watching his face, there was nothing but pure joy. I like that.
Tony Grady laid down some serious funk on the bass. The groove was just right and the smile... What is it about bassists and the utter glee they derive from a good jam? Whatever it is, it totally works! Wil Crosby, guitarist, kicked it up a notch with some of the tastiest licks of the whole set. I love it when an axe slinger breaks loose and takes center stage, giving all he has. It sent chills up and down my spine.
My heart didn't stop pounding until Staples and her sister, Yvonne (backup vocals) returned to the stage. They brought it all back together and the crowd went wild. Yes, that crowd of young and old fans danced and cheered the band on 'til the very last note had been sung.