Dave Mason Band
17 February 1993
Rack N' Roll, Colorado Springs, CO
The unfortunate reality for some of the recording acts popular in the 70's, is the fact that we're now in the 90's. Without a hit record in 15 years, Dave Mason still tours the club circuits. Rack N' Roll is known for its ensemble of pool tables moreso than it is for its live entertainment. In this tiny club, Dave performed on a small stage in its Northwest corner.
I was able to arrive during the soundcheck. With only a handful of ticketholders having also arrived, Dave was able to pull off a full soundcheck without garnering too many obsessed fans wanting autographs, etc. Now sporting a vest and cowboy hat, Dave fits in anonymously well at this well-cued establishment. After the soundcheck completed, Dave even strolled across the nightclub and outside to get a breath of fresh air before the evening's performance.
At this point, Rack N' Roll hasn't evolved into a smoke-free facility, and this misfortune placed a hazy cloud over the otherwise enjoyable entertainment.
Dave stepped onto the stage with a jet-black acoustic 6-string in standard tuning, spent about a minute to check out his instrument, and started his four-piece band into "World In Changes". Not a well-known number, not an upbeat song by the standards of most, but a good song nevertheless.
Dave then took out a 12-string guitar that, visibly, seemed indistinguishable from the previous guitar, to begin performing, "Can't Stop Worryin', Can't Stop Lovin'". And trouble began. In the middle of the song, the guitar's pickup electronics crapped out. Though, with the three remaining band members pressing on nicely, Dave appeared visibly distracted by the anomaly. So much so that, instead of continuing to strum, he started bending down, wiggling cables, etc. After about 30 second of failed troubleshooting, Dave picked up his off-white electric Telecaster, tuned a semitone lower than his acoustics, and attempted to put finishing touches on the song.
After the song completed, awkwardly, instead of pressing on with his set with one of his two working guitars, Dave chose to go backstage for about ten minutes, trying to get the 12-string to work.....to NO avail. The superstar guitarist of Traffic, and singles hitmaker of the '70s, I guess, couldn't afford to bring another 12-string on the touring bus. After the ten minute dead time, Dave walked back out, saying, "Ah, sorry about that," and finally pressed on.
Anyway, Dave gave the audience more from his 1970 album, Alone Together, including, "Just A Song", "Sad And Deep As You", and, one of my favorites, "Look At You, Look At Me." Continuing on his career-long songwriting history of putting point-counterpoint lyrics into his compositions, Dave put on nice performances of "We Just Disagree", and "Let It Go, Let It Flow", from his gold 1977 LP, Let It Flow.
One other distracting habit of this musician is his unbendable choice to tune his guitars by himself between songs--this 1-2 minute melancholic pause between tracks kills a lot of the excitement of this performer, and is about as annoying as a live CD put on shuffle play.
The evening couldn't conclude without the songs he performs best when live, the Traffic standards, "Pearly Queen" and "Dear Mr. Fantasy", and the Bob Dylan-penned, "All Along The Watchtower".
Dave Mason was, and is, the master of nightclub music--23 years strong, and many more to come for sure.
[***] - Steven T.
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