Walking up to center stage, twentysomething Jonny Lang looked more like a kid that works in a coffee shop than a monster musician, but a monster he is. From the opening “One Person at a Time” to the encore “Lie to Me,” Lang was as close to guitar playing perfection as Houston has seen in a long while.
His band, ah, not so much. The drummer spent the first four songs trying to find the pocket, the keyboardist was much too loud and the bass player managed to look bored for most of the set. Their frequent solos (Lang generously let them take the spotlight far too many times) were rambling, showing neither technical nor intellectual prowess. Even when they were just backing Lang, they overplayed.
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But back to Jonny.
Lang played a searing solo on “Turn Around.” The moody, chain-gang tune also showed off Lang’s vocal range and earned him his first standing ovation of the night. For the rest of the night, Lang played one impossible solo one after another; his speed matched only by his accuracy and emotion. Even on the acoustic guitar (which he picked up late in the show), Lang is an unequivocal master.
During the encore “Lie to Me,” Lang showed what ten years on the road can do to a man, adding a hard-edged solo to the bouncy blues tune.
Bottom line, I loved Lang. His band was a little bothersome, but they were easily forgotten every time Lang took another searing solo. — Olivia Flores Alvarez