Aftermath: Loggins & Messina, Feelin' Good Again at the Arena Theater (Plus a Bonus Classic Rock Bob Rant)
Photos by Bob Ruggiero
The story of Loggins and Messina is that of an accidental partnership made good. At its inception, Jim Messina had already been with both Buffalo Springfield and Poco when he crossed paths with the up-and-coming Kenny Loggins, whose debut record he was given the task of producing and parenting. But as Messina became more of a creative partner and the resulting effort, 1972's Sittin' In, became a hit, the pair stuck together, releasing four more studio, one covers, and two live records. But soon, the mentor/student relationship had turned, with Loggins' contributions rising to the top. Indeed after their breakup, he would go on to great solo success in the '80s and '90s. So by the time their first greatest hits record, The Best of Friends, came out, Kenny Loggins and Jim Messina were anything but, displaying little of their vaunted onstage harmony in real life. Cut to 2005, when the pair came back together to put out a new compilation (Sittin' in Again: The Best of Loggins & Messina) and hit the road for a reunion tour. A second jaunt brought the pair and crack six-piece band for a generous two-hour show to Houston Sunday night, showing that these Miners of Mellow Gold could just as easily deliver stone country and extended rock jams.
The pair opened with some of their catalogue's more laid-back tunes, proving that time has shaved nothing off their trademark harmonies, with Messina's "Travelin' Blues" and Loggins' "Long Tail Cat" standing out. And while surely some of L&M's humorous banter didn't make its stage debut in Houston, there was a genuine warmth between them. A cover of the Beatles' "Two of Us" brought the audience to its feet, its country-tinged take segueing nicely into "Listen to a Country Song." In fact, with instrumentalists pulling out fiddles, dobros, and mandolins, the show could have doubled as a great barn dance, with Messina donning a black cowboy hat for a time. Aftermath has never been a fan of Loggins' solo career, but still cannot underestimate just how strong the man's voice was, pulling out all the stops during an unhinged, preachin', testifyin' middle section of "Peace of Mind" Who knew the guy from "Footloose" had soul? That grit continued with deep extended rock jams on a number of songs, and an incredible sax duel between two horny guys during "You Need a Man." In fact, each member of the backing band got to show off prodigious chops at some point, with theirs bosses full and smiling approval.
Among the show closers were - of course - "Your Mama Don't Dance," which had plenty of suburban mothers and grandmothers defying the title, and at the end a massive singalong on the highly singalongable "Danny's Song" - though what could have been highly corny ended up quite sweet. Overall, Aftermath came away with renewed respect for Loggins & Messina, both as a duo and as players. And so long as Kenny doesn't die from any plastic surgery-related problems, a new studio album could pick up where these best of friends left off. Side Note I: Kenny Loggins in particular seemed at times bemused with the unique revolving and, um, cozy confines of the Arena stage. During the final bows, the band was packed in so tightly that the bassist hit his head on a steel drum as he bent over. Side Note II: Aftermath's brother - a guitar picker himself - spent much of the show salivating over the endless parade of high-end and shiny axes that made their way to the stage. But frustrated with the lack of on-your-feet response from the audience, he waggishly dubbed it the "Sittin' Down Again" Tour. Bonus Classic Rock Bob Rant! Hey, you assholes that kept screaming "Angry Eyes!" between every song. Shut the fuck up. It's a concert, not the all-request hour. Did you think that they weren't going to do goddamn "Angry Eyes?" Well they did, and it was awesome. And bonus douche points to the guy in front of us who yelled (of course) "Freebird!"
Set List Watching the River Run House at Pooh Corner You Could Break My Heart Whiskey Travelin' Blues Long Tail Cat Two of Us Listen to a Country Song/Country Jam Georgia On My Mind/Back to Georgia Sailin' the Wind Be Free Peace of Mind Changes Angry Eyes You Need a Man/Coming to You Vaheleva Your Mama Don't Dance Nobody But You Danny's Song
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