Sunday, September 16, 2007


I caught Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals last night at Radio City Music Hall. Incredible, as always. I've seen Ben probably 20 or so times since the first time I saw him in 1994. But I hadn't seen him in about three years - the last time I saw him, he played the Apollo Theater with the Blind Boys Of Alabama, which was one of the greatest concerts I've ever seen. It was the only show that Ben and the Blind Boys did to promote thier classic collaboration, There Will Be A Light. There was just a real special vibe to the show.

Last night wasn't quite that good, but close. He opened the show with "11th Commandment," a solo instrumental piece from There Will Be A Light, and then went into "Well Well Well" from the same album: just him on his slide guitar with the Innocent Criminals gathered around a mic behind him. Pretty powerful moment. He played most of his already-classic new album, Lifeline, which came off great live, as well as a few songs off There Will Be A Light, which I didn't expect. He always picks some cool covers and last night was no exception: he did Bob Dylan's "Masters Of War" as a duet with his opening act, Piers Fucini. The show didn't feature many of Ben's more political songs, so I was surprised at the cover, but it was super powerful. He really gives Eddie Vedder a run for his money in the "best version of this song" race. He also did a song by one of my favorite singers, Bill Withers: "Use Me" (some people might remember Mick Jagger and Lenny Kravitz did a great cover of this a decade ago or so). Really great. I advise anyone with any taste at all to check out Ben Harper in concert. If you haven't been impressed by any "new" artists in the past 15 years or so, check out Ben. I can't wait until the next time he plays NYC: I definitely am not letting three years go by until my next Ben Harper show.

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