If you don't like wah-wah pedals, I guess you shouldn't go to a Dave Mason concert. Honestly, it was like 1975 in the Rams Head on Tuesday -- except for the coffee, Red Bull and clean, clean air.
The former Traffic member didn't make any attempt to update his sound: Starting with early '70s hits "Only You Know and I Know" and ending with "Feelin' Alright" -- and with stops at "We Just Disagree" and Traffic's "Dear Mr. Fantasy" -- Mason and his four-piece group stuck with what worked in the last century.
No miracles happened, and few chances were taken. Mason is a tasteful axman; his electric solos, when not wah-ing, were just what the fervent audience thirsted for. In one extraordinary passage, he and his compatriots shifted from reggae to blues-rock to jazz and back again, and a solo that began as sweet nothings up and down the fretboard turned into wicked psychedelia, shifting shape so many times it was impossible to keep up.
His stamina was remarkable, and his vocals sounded like those of a 59-year-old rocker: weathered, impassioned, confident.
One of his newer songs, "Are Your Legs Tired, Baby, 'Cause You Keep On Runnin' Through My Mind," a rockabilly rouser, proved his worth at yet another genre. Not that it was a groundbreaker, either, but that didn't matter. Some musicians evolve, some dissolve into self-parody. And some, like Mason, can make running in place seem worthy of a gold medal.
-- Pamela Murray Winters