Many old Rockers, like good wine it seems, mature and improve with age and so does their music and Steve Miller and his songs really prove this rule. Writes Paul Stewart
The Space Cowboy was back and on monstrously good form. The gig was utterly sublime, which, while sounding polished and refined, still managed to have the classic Steve Miller “edge”. The audience were very obviously fans, as the cheers as the band entered showed. From the first note, the whole show exuded quality and, was what this writer can only describe as blatantly American, which in a Rock context, is no bad thing. Other nations, apart from the British and Americans can Rock, allegedly***, but we won’t worry about that here. This was classic American Rock of the highest calibre. With Miller’s laid back, yet electrifying guitar combining brilliantly with his laconic Texan drawl to raise this performance well above the ordinary.
Playing for two hours and entertaining the audience with no support band, would stretch much younger men, but Miller took it in his stride and gave a vibrant performance. At one point, the rest of the band left the stage (perhaps for a breather…) and Steve played on acoustically. Sitting on a stool, he had a one to one relationship with every single member of the capacity crowd and I would like to say, at this point, something about the Roundhouse, which since the demise of the Rainbow, and, latterly, due to bungling politicians, the Astoria, Charing Cross Road, has now regained its mantle as the premier Rock venue in London. The perceived wisdom is that the acoustics in circular venues are not normally good, which in the case of the Roundhouse, is entirely wrong. The sound was tremendous. Anywhere you were in the building, it sounded good and this gig had all the character and charm of a late 60s, early 70s gig at this superb venue.
Before the show as the audience filed in, I was moved to wonder whether they were representative of his fan base as there was an overwhelming, perhaps 80% to 90% of the audience, male. But then on thinking about it, I think Steve Miller would forgive me for saying he was never so much a sex symbol but always a consummate musician and that certainly hasn’t changed and before I start a riot, I do not mean to imply that women don’t appreciate music, they do both as listeners and performers. Also, it was good to see many younger people in the audience, showing that Steve Millers quality can and does cross generations.
But back to the music. Steve Miller himself is a master at programming the arrangement of the gig. Each time you thought their presentation of the music could get no better, they would change up a gear and prove you wrong and cleverly, the best were kept till last. Of the three tracks they played as an encore, perhaps Miller’s best known tracks, “Space Cowboy” and “The Joker”, were the final two tracks of the night, to use the wine analogy again, having served us great vintages all evening, he then got on to the Grand Cru Champagne and blew us away. If you don’t know Steve Miller, and, where the hell have you been if you don’t, check him out. This was one damn fine evening and if you get the chance to see him live, take it.
*** Before I alienate the rest of the world I’ve been asked to point out I hold many nations rock music in high esteem. In my collection are rock records going back to the sixties from France, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Russia, Australia, Italy and many others. However In most cases these bands all are trying for an American or British sound. This could make a very good article for the “Comment Zone”
Words and Pictures ©Paul Stewart 2012 Click any thumbnail to view the full gallery