No frills, just a solid backbeat, cascading harmonies and some tasty blues-inflected rock guitar.
What else could you hope for from the Steve Miller band?
Oh, hits? Sure. Miller – with his usual professorial look of tousled gray hair, glasses and shirt with sleeves rolled to the elbows – and his five-piece band provided plenty of ‘70s and ‘80s memories at Turner Field following the Braves’ thumping of the Reds.
On a makeshift stage rolled onto the infield, Miller immediately delved into a couple of tunes that surely lured baseball fans into sticking around – “Jungle Love” and “Take the Money and Run.”
Several thousand people remained in the stands for the free post-game concert, happily singing along to those “soundtrack of my life” songs that Miller and his tight crew delivered with an air of businesslike professionalism.
Bassist (and longtime former guitarist) Kenny Lee Lewis and singer Sonny Charles (a SMB addition in 2008) provided the most animation during the 15-song set, though the usually stoic Miller seemed to enjoy himself as well.
“I hate to say it, but look at all you old jokers out there,” he said to the whooping crowd.
Later, during the trippy ‘70s-era keyboard sounds that usher in “Fly Like an Eagle,” Miller allowed a small smile and waved to the fans who packed the bleachers.
While, naturally, there was the list of expected songs during the hour-long set, Miller also offered a string of album cuts.
“Sugar Babe” and “Shu Ba Da Du Ma Ma Ma Ma” represented “The Joker” album, while “Serenade” returned fans to the “Fly Like an Eagle” era.
At nearly 70, Miller still sounds and plays impressively. There were noticeable key changes in “Abracadabra,” but the rest of the songs were faithful to their original incarnations.
Miller remained busy with his guitar during the set as well, caressing the neck during those whizzing fills in “Abracadabra,” reeling out a solo in “Space Cowboy,” jamming with the band through “Fly Like an Eagle” and prompting celebratory yelps of recognition at the opening riffs of “Jet Airliner” and “Rock’n Me.”
Good to know that the Space Cowboy is as hardy as ever.
(The Braves’ concert series will next host Big & Rich on Sept. 1.)