Steve Miller Band Plays The Hits At Kirby Show
WILKES-BARRE — One would never guess that when Steve Miller walked into the legendary Manny’s Music store in New York City after his first “big paid gig,” he couldn’t afford anything on display.
On his way out of the store, Miller plucked a unique guitar out of a barrel on sale for only $125. This instrument — painted purple to look like alligator skin and equipped with 19 strings to create a beautiful, harp-like sound — remains a staple of the rock star’s touring guitars.
Miller and his purple guitar graced the stage at the F.M. Kirby Center for Performing Arts in downtown Wilkes-Barre on Sunday evening with the psychedelic Steve Miller Band.
Just before 9 p.m., blue lights washed over the stage as a voice echoed throughout the venue.
“Kirby Center! Kirby Center! Kirby Center!” the voice called. “Please welcome to the stage, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Stevey ‘Guitar’ Miller and his Steve Miller Band!”
Multicolored spotlights flickered into the roaring crowd as the quintet played the opening chords to their 1977 hit, “Jungle Love.” The music flowed seamlessly into “Take the Money and Run,” with an intricate keys solo by Joseph Wooten, before Miller took a moment to greet his fans.
The Steve Miller Band rocked its way through the past five decades with ease, first gaining ground in San Francisco, California. The group, lead by vocalist and lead guitarist Steve Miller, is best known for its mid-1970s rock hits that are staples on classic rock radio, such as “The Joker” and “Abracadabra.”
The veteran rocker, alternatively known as “The Joker,” “The Space Cowboy” or the “Gangster of Love,” performed on a sparse stage with four revolving backdrops that shifted throughout the show. Although the stage lacked any major set pieces, a show of lights kept fans’ eyes on the stage all night.
Miller was smart enough to play his myriad of hits, particularly from “Fly Like An Eagle” and “Book of Dreams, but he kept them fresh with extended intros and instrumental solos by Miller and his bandmates.
At 73, the vocalist remains a calm presence on stage, but his musical prowess shines brightly through his hits, as he proved to the nearly full audience this weekend. From shredding guitar solos to intricate harmonica bits, Miller clearly deserved his new spot as a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer.
As a new member of the Hall of Fame, Miller said he wants to “stir the pot” by enforcing music education and encouraging more women to become inducted into the organization.
“If you care about music and music education, hold these people accountable. But when people walk up to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, what are they going to see? This is what I want them to hear,” Miller said, before sliding into his No. 1 hit, “The Joker.”
And the crowd went wild for this song, causing several groups of people to take to the aisles to dance and sing along with the group.
The opening act
Scranton native, and Times-Shamrock employee, Tom Graham opened for the rockers with a soulful acoustic set. The singer-songwriter captivated the crowd for a quick, yet impressive batch of both original and cover songs.
“OK, this is the audience participation partition, participation partition,” he joked, stumbling over his words. He lead the audience in a call-and-response of the 1956 song, “Got My Mojo Working.”
“It’s Oct. 30, it’s mischief night. Let’s get weird,” he shouted to get the crowd hyped up. He insisted that it was his job as the opening act to get the fans warmed up and energized in preparation for the main attraction.
“I underestimated you all, I must admit,” Graham added, following the successful audience participation.
1. Jungle Love
2. Take the Money and Run
4. Living in the U.S.A.
5. Space Cowboy
6. Going to Mexico
7. Wild Mountain Honey
8. I Want to Make the World Turn Around
10. Shu Ba Da Du Ma Ma Ma Ma
11. Winter Time
12. The Joker
13. Dance Dance Dance
14. Fly Like an Eagle
15. Rock’n Me
16. The Stake
18. Jet Airliner