Fresh off the success of a nearly two-year Las Vegas residency, Taylor Hicks rocked the Skookum Creek Event Center at Shelton, Washington’s Little Creek Casino on June 26, 2014. The show was a crowd-pleasing display of high-octane blues and soul highlighted by Hicks’ powerhouse pipes. Even while backed by a sparser ensemble than he’s traveled with in the past, the energy level remained as high as ever. In fact, the only veteran Hicks band member was stalwart keyboardist Brian Less. After many years on the road together, Hicks and Less are quite a formidable duo—expertly playing off each other, pushing one another to greater heights.
Admirably stepping in with only a day’s rehearsal were Lukas Grey on lead guitar and Joshua Kossak on drums (both of the Tony Bridges Band, who opened the show with a three-part harmony-drenched acoustic set). Less filled out the sound with keyboard basslines and Hicks frequently added his own scrappy rhythm guitar playing. And of course it wouldn’t be a Taylor Hicks concert without some tasty harmonica licks, which dressed up the mid-show highlight “Going Back to Louisiana.”
The smaller lineup resulted in a shift in dynamics when compared to past Hicks’ shows. Longer, jam-oriented performances were in shorter supply, though the upshot was an intense focus on the lead vocals. Mingling amongst concertgoers post-show, many uninitiated attendees were overheard expressing amazement at the raw intensity of Hicks’ singing.
The fame that comes with winning something as mainstream as American Idol also inspires a lot of naysaying from people who prejudge without actually listening. All it usually takes is one concert to convert those folks. Speaking of Idol, Hicks performed several favorites from his time on the show, including “Taking it to the Streets” and “In the Ghetto.” He drew laughs with anecdotes about his time on the TV show and interactions with notoriously hard-to-please Idol judge Simon Cowell.
A hard-charging take on the Jamie McLean Band’s “Country Living” opened the show. Guitarist Lukas Grey delivered a smooth solo during “Why Can’t We Live Together,” a 1972 Timmy Thomas tune that found Hicks soloing on Hammond organ. Peppering the show were several Hicks originals, including the country-tinged ballad “Maybe You Should” and “Hell of a Day.” The rest of the band left the stage during the latter, leaving Hicks alone with just his guitar to back up his impassioned vocal. “Seven Mile Breakdown” closed the set, followed by the star of the show hustling back to the merch table to sign autographs for a long line of happy fans.
Next up for Taylor Hicks, who has been hard at work on brand new music, is the July Fourth Celebration at Centennial Olympic Park. Fans in the Atlanta area can tune in for the performance that night on WSB-TV. To keep up to date on Taylor Hicks, visit his official website or follow him on Twitter.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B001U8WLF8,B00138J5IQ,B00138J5SG,B001KEGR7A]