Shows I’ll Never Forget: Poco, November 9, 2013

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At Chicago’s Mayne Stage: I was looking forward to seeing the band Poco again. I had the good fortune of seeing the band, or more accurately the Poco acoustic trio, in 2012. However, I wanted to hear them perform songs from their 2013 release All Fired Up as a full band.

Even more anticipation was created when the band mentioned on its web page that Poco would discontinue touring in a major way in 2014. (Their tentative last show is scheduled for the Lyric Theater in Florida on February 15, 2014). Leader and founding member Rusty Young mentioned from the stage in Chicago that he felt it was a good time to spend time on his property in Missouri with his wife. While I’m happy for Rusty’s plan for the future, Poco will surely be missed. The band’s Saturday night demonstrated why.

Poco has never gotten the critical acclaim or sales of bands that they influenced (like the Eagles, Wilco and even Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers) but the band — despite all the personnel changes and career highs and lows — still managed to put on the excellent show.

The current version features the aforementioned Young on guitar, dobro and lap steel guitar, Jack Sundrund on bass and acoustic guitar, Michael Webb on Hammond B-3, keyboard and accordian and drummer George Lawrence. Starting with their last major hit “Call It Love” from their 1989 album Legacy and ending 100 minutes later with the title track from 1972’s A Good Feelin’ To Know, Poco played with spontaneity and passion you wish the Eagles had.

Young’s guitar was precise and passionate. His playing on “Regret” was spot on. Webb’s B-3 playing filled out the Poco sound — to the point that it’s now hard to believe this was once a three-guitar band. Webb also provided a passionate lead vocal and guitar to the new song “That’s What Rock & Roll Will Do.” Jack Sundrund’s contributions were equally important. His new song from All Fired Up, “Hard Country,” created an effective portrait of the plight of the American farmer while using just an acoustic guitar and great harmony vocals from Young and Webb.

Surprisingly, Rusty Young didn’t bring his trademark pedal steel guitar. However, his electric playing and lap steel made up for it. Being the only designated full-time guitarist in the band helps the listener appreciate what a master player Young is. By the time Poco reached “A Good Feelin’ To Know,” the audience was indeed all fired up. Thanks for the 46 years, Poco. You will be missed.

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Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier is a bass-playing lawyer living in Atlanta. His first Steely Dan exposure was with an eight-track cassette of 'Pretzel Logic.' He can be reached at slangofages@icloud.com; follow him on Twitter: @slangofages. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Preston Frazier
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