Bruce Hornsby was the perfect complement to a picnic under the full moon at Wolf Trap last night. His trademark piano rolled through the night and his round tenor was like a breeze. He treated his fans to a wide variety of tunes, from stretched-out versions of his own hits to Traffic's "Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys," Don Henley's "The End of the Innocence" (which Hornsby cowrote), and "Jack Straw" by the Grateful Dead (of which he is a part-time member).
He made them all sound like Bruce Hornsby songs, which after a while became tedious, as almost every number turned into an excuse for him to take extended solos into the pop-jazz realm, with the band following. While his keyboard playing is skilled and easy on the ear, the similar tone reduced even his best songs, like 1986's "Every Little Kiss," to the same level.
In a highlight of the concert, singer Shawn Colvin joined Hornsby to perform a moving version of the recent "Lost Soul," which she also sings on his recorded version. Her flexible voice challenged Hornsby to give his most soulful rendition of the night.
Opening the show were Canada's Cowboy Junkies, who put on an astonishingly languorous set under moody lights. It added to the all-around pleasantness of the evening, but made one wish for a cup of hot java.