Classic Rock Corner

Sadly, Steve Miller Band Was Underwhelming Saturday Night

Steve Miller Band
Revention Music Center
July 23, 2016

The Steve Miller Band took the stage around 9 p.m. on Saturday night at Revention Music Center, performing for a mostly older crowd, made up of a lot of couples; the younger people in attendance were majority female. The band predominantly stuck to a set of their classic-rock hits throughout the night, opening up with “Jungle Love” followed by “Take the Money and Run” and “Abracadabra.” The sound seemed a bit off to me; I don’t claim to be any kind of audio expert, but I know what sounds good, and the sound at this show was to my ears less than stellar. Perhaps that was because my seat was up on the left side of the second level in the direct line of speakers hanging above the stage?

The group's stage setup was interesting in that the drummer was not in the center of the stage as is usually the norm, but off to the left, while Steve Miller himself took center stage; this definitely left no doubt that yep, this is Steve’s band.

As I was sitting there listening to the first few songs of the show, I couldn’t help feeling the band was just going through the motions; I felt this throughout the entire concert, actually. The band’s performance seemed to lack excitement and enthusiasm; I wasn’t feeling it. Large portions of the crowd were just sitting in their chairs staring at the stage, and even the more enthusiastic people seemed to me to be trying to convince themselves they were having a good time, rather than experiencing it as a natural, organic feeling.

The audience did loudly cheer a few times, to be fair. The biggest crowd reactions of the night occurred when Miller sang about the detective down in Texas during “Take the Money and Run”; Miller demanding a cheeseburger at the end of “Livin’ In the U.S.A.”; and during the band’s big hit songs “The Joker” and “Rockin’ Me.”

During the introduction to “The Joker,” Miller brought up what he referred to as the “dust-up” and “brouhaha” that occurred after he ranted against the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the press room following the induction ceremony he was a part of back in April. Miller again criticized the Hall for keeping his friends and family out of the ceremony, and went on to say that the Hall should tackle issues like musicians' health care and that he intends to help fix the Hall of Fame and make it mean something, though he did not provide any details.

At around the seventh song of the night, “Serenade,” a group consisting of two guys and two girls showed up late and sat behind me, and immediately started talking to each other and never shut up; they even kept talking after I turned around and gave them a look of disgust. It always amazes me that people pay good money to go see live music just to talk to each other and ignore the performers onstage. Unfortunately, this seems to happen way more often in Houston than it should these days, based on what I've seen written by other concert reviewers in the Houston Press. Even though I wasn’t really digging this show, the talking just made it that much worse.

I tried to ignore these extremely annoying people through several songs, but I just couldn’t take it anymore and so I walked down to the bottom level during “Rockin’ Me” and watched the rest of the concert standing off to the left side of the seating area. Interestingly enough, the area was not that crowded and there were even several empty seats in the first four rows or so. It seemed like a lot of people left the show early; there was no one in line to buy beers at all late in the show, something I have never seen at a concert in Houston before.

Steve Miller seems like a really great guy as far as I can tell and I hate to bash him too much, but again, this concert was a disappointment to me. I really liked the DVD Steve Miller Band - Live From Chicago, which was released in 2008, and I was hoping to see a great, enthusiastic performance like the one captured on it, but alas, that did not happen on Saturday night. In the past I have seen live shows that made me think to myself, “That is the best concert I have ever been to!” Well, this one did not make me think that at all, unfortunately. Maybe the band just had an off night? It happens. Toward the end of the show, during the last few songs of the obligatory encore, Miller was insisting on playing more songs more than the crowd was insisting on hearing them; Miller forgot the words of the closing song, “Jet Airliner.”

After the show ended, the lights came on and the song “The Thrill Is Gone” by B.B. King was played over the PA system. That title really sums up my feelings about the Steve Miller Band after watching their performance.

Jungle Love
Take the Money and Run
Livin’ In the U.S.A.
Space Cowboy
I Want To Make the World Turn Around
Shubada Du Ma Ma
Winter Time
The Joker
Jet Airliner (acoustic)
Dance Dance Dance (acoustic)
Fly Like An Eagle
Rockin’ Me
The Stake
Mercury Blues
Jet Airliner
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Lifelong Houstonian David Rozycki has been contributing to the Houston Press since 2014. He is a longtime fan of metal, punk, and all rock genres featuring loud guitars, and in more recent decades has become obsessed with the music catalogs of Neil Young and Bob Dylan.
Contact: David Rozycki