Tonight was a blast from the past as I went to see Lenny Kravitz at the Ryman Auditorium. I guess it was about 10 to 12 years ago I saw him at this same venue and it was awesome then, as it was tonight. I was a little apprehensive about going to this show as I haven't really liked his recent stuff. After realizing that this tour has been recognizing the 20th anniversary of the release of "Let Love Rule", I thought maybe the song selection would be right for me.
The opening band, K'NAAN, were an urban hip/hop pop group that was pretty boring and uneventful. The long winded spoken word poetry and boring songs were a disappointing opener that could have been a real rock warm up for Lenny. The point of an opening act is to fire up the crowd, not lull them into nicotine cravings and foot tapping anticipation. Weak sauce.
When Lenny finally started, the crowd was ready to rock with him. He came out with his trademark rock riffs and overtly sexual dance moves. Starting with "Freedom Train", the set rolled through old favorites like "Blues for Sister Someone" and "Mr. Cab Driver". "American Woman" provided a good chance to use the bathroom and get a drink. It was a bad song then, with the Guess Who, and not much better now. My Favorite part of the set was "Always On the Run", with one of the funkiest rock riffs ever recorded. The ever powerful "Are You Gonna Go My Way" closed the show and we swayed back and forth for the "Let Love Rule" love-fest encore.
It was good to see his longtime band mates still with him. Greg Ross on the lead guitar, the same afro sporting madman, is the most crucial part of this line-up. Still killing the solos and riffs, he is the perfect guitar man for Lenny's sound. You can really tell that they've been together since the beginning. The other longtime band mate, bass player Jack Daley, was great holding down all the old grooves. I really missed the cool chick drummer, but the new guy was solid on the skins with what appeared to be a 12 foot wingspan and a good feel for Lenny's trademark funk/rock sound. Rounding out the group with a 3 piece horn section and a keyboard player made this band a full rock storm that supported Lenny like a pile of bricks and mortar.
The "Let Love Rule" concept was a good idea. Let's hope he doesn't decide to pay tribute to twenty years of "American Woman", as that might not go over as well. Lenny sure does know how to rock, and as long as he keeps this band line-up together, he can keep playing "Fly Away" and even that will be a satisfying show for Lenny enthusiasts.