Legendary rockers, The Marshall Tucker Band brought their tour to Florida last night, and they put on a strong show at the Orlando Jai Alai. Doug Gray is the sole original member still touring with the band, as they celebrate 40 years of classic Southern Rock. Although not original members, the current version of the band has been touring together for years, and they are a tremendously talented, cohesive group of musicians.
Gray’s voice was rough, and he struggled to hit the notes that were originally sung by founding member and primary song-writer, the deceased Toy Caldwell. But, that was the only negative the entire night. Gray was still an affable, entertaining front man. He interacted with the crowd all night, was constantly smiling and laughing, and shared more than a few priceless nuggets from the band’s storied past, including the fact that the last time they played a Jai Alai venue was in 1972 in Miami.
As for the venue, it was surprisingly a great place to see a show. I’ll leave it at that for now, but we’ll have a review for the venue posted in the next day or two.
The band kicked off the show with a crisp extended version of “This Old Cowboy,” where Rick Willis and Stuart Swanlund traded off nice guitar riffs. In total, they played just eight songs, yet played for over 90 minutes as most songs included extended versions and solos galore.
One of the early highlights was “Take the Highway,” where keyboard player and flutist, Marcus James Henderson, took the lead vocal. Aside from nailing the vocals, he shared several powerful flute solos that brought the crowd to their feet. Before this show, I hadn’t realized how prominently The Marshall Tucker Band featured the flute, but it was a welcome change.
During “24 Hours at a Time,” Marcus traded his flute for a sax, and absolutely tore up the stage. Willis and Swanlund again traded off guitar leads, and we also got to see nice bass and drum solos from Pat Elwood and B.B. Borden respectively. The song lasted at least fifteen minutes, and went by in a flash as it was thoroughly entertaining.
The talent in the band was impressive throughout the night. The solos were powerful and passionate, and the band members all had their moments in the spotlight. Henderson, Swanlund and Willis all took lead vocals on for at least one song. I loved Willis’s powerful vocals which were eerily reminiscent of Toy Caldwell’s back in the 70’s. Good stuff!
They closed with a fantastic sing-along version of “Can’t You See” which was Gray’s shining moment. The song that some consider to be the greatest Southern Rock song ever, had the crowd fully engaged, on their feet and singing along throughout. They took a few bows, introduced their encore without leaving the stage and belted out a great version of “Blue Ridge Mountain Sky.”
Overall, a nice show with some fantastic musicians that helped bring back that great 70’s classic Southern Rock vibe, at least for a night.
Local musicians Charlie D and the Things opened the show with a fun thirty minute set. The band features Charlie De Cosa a local musician who has played with many bands over the years. The definitely give off a Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefers vibe, and did a good job warming up the crowd.
Rock On – Cretin
See the Setlist below.
This Old Cowboy
Fire On the Mountain
Take the Highway
Heard It In A Love Song
24 Hours At A Time
Can’t You See
Blue Ridge Mountain Sky