Review by Rhonda GramsThe Lang show opened oddly and rather simply at the Orpheum Theater in Madison last week. With no thunderous drum rolls or thrilling light show to announce the fans' hero had arrived - it was just Jonny and his band casually walking onto a sparsely lit stage (perhaps a gesture of equality to his band). The audience unaware of his presence, talked normally as they awaited his arrival. Jonny, dressed comfortably in jeans and a t-shirt and with shortly cropped hair (his long blonde lockes from his teen years are long gone) stepped to the mic and started off the show with a well known and well received "Still Rainin'" off his Wander This World CD. A very good choice as it grabbed his audience by their collective ears right out of the gates. Reigning with fury throughout the concert he played such songs as the fiery "A Quitter Never Wins" off of his Lie To Me CD and also the vocally rich "To Love Again" a new ballad off his recently released Long Time Coming CD. It turned the concert hall into a ballet of purple beams that streamed out onto the audience at orchestrated beats - lulling all to the calm before the storm. Jonny soon got his fans rallying again with the bar room flavor of "Rack 'em Up," one of his older songs that proved to spur the crowd off of their feet. Lang plays guitar as if he were making love. Animated and lost in the moment, the chords would drip off the frets and take flight as his animated facial gestures would urge them along.
Photos by Terry Mayer
The highlight of the night was certainly Jonny's guitar duel with his sax player. The song "I Am" started out simply, but suddenly it became a tug-of-war between two very talented musicians. Nobody won except for the audience. Jonny stepped to the plate with an amazing demonstration of his soulfully raw talent and amazing versatility. No doubt he was making a point by adding jazz overtones to the blend, showing us how diverse he had become in just a few short years. The baby of the blues has grown up to take his place among his peers at the young age of 23. Lang use to be referred to as "Kid Lang." I am sure he is now referred to as Mr. Lang. He has justly earned the respect of many other musicians in his field. As a fan of both rock and the blues, Jonny is a master of both. Fusing them together and giving birth to his own distinct style. I look forward to seeing where his talents take him in the next 23 years.
The evening kicked off in nice fashion with Indigenous, a four member family band with brother/guitarist Mato Nanji delivering some passion packed lead vocals. They set the tone for the evening with their raw, hard-edged rock mixed with a heavy blues twist that brought the crowd to its feet many times with standing ovations. Having toured with the likes of Bob Dylan, Dave Matthews and Carlos Santana, they are talented enough to become a force in their own right. This is a band I would like to hear more of and judging from the response of the audience - I will.
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