The capacity crows at House of Blues Dallas was anxious to hear one of the best blues bands around and began clapping at the downbeat time. A hush palled over the venue as a 20-year-old Kenny Wayne Shepherd interview played on the back screen, then an interview from the David Letterman Show introduced the KWS Band promoting the album Trouble Is... as the band took the stage.
The 25-year anniversary of their first of eight straight #1 Blues Albums led to this tour and the eponymous title song started a jam that would last for over two hours. Shepherds' emotion streaming through his hands on the fret was matched by Noah Hunt's soulful vocals that has made the band one of the leading a favorite in live performances as well as albums sold.
The horns section quickly came into play and greatly enhanced every song as they played the entire Trouble Is... album to start the 18-song show. The songs sounded as fresh as they did 25 years ago as Shepherd's jams added to the bands already tight music. Chris Layton pounded the kit as he always has with Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, Arc Angels and Storyville before joining Kenny Wayne Shepherd.
Shepherd engaged the audience and they cheered louder and louder. During "Somehow, Somewhere, Someway," he took center stage and played with speed and emotion and performed with animated antics that took the crowd to a new level of appreciation. The great tone on "I Don't Live Today" was influenced by SRV as "Whipper" Slayton hit the skins with the perfection he has attained over the years.
Then came Blue On Black, the staple that is required playing on every blues and rock station in the land. The crowd jumped at the first notes, sang along with every word and grooved at the jam session it turned into. The horn section again provided the pop for the Bob Dylan cover of "Everything Is Broken." Kenny explained how he opened for Dylan for his first two tours and had to play a cover song.
Keyboards, harmonica, horns and the bass all jumped in for the last of the songs on the album before the band took a very short break and came back to finish the gig. Shepherd immediately engaged the crowd who responded accordingly to the upbeat and driving "I Want You." The virtuoso guitarist, who has been singing more on his later albums, then led the deep-string blues song, "Do You Love Me." Sax and trumpet both showcased their talents and Shepherd threw down some electrified funk to a huge hand.
The uber-talented entertainer then brought up one of his mentors to the stage for the Elmore James cover of "Talk To Me Baby," which again turned into a singalong by everyone in the audience. Hunt grabbed a guitar and the three guitarists formed a line as the trumpeter used the lid to sound like Satchmo.
The bass got jam time as everyone joined in on "Diamonds And Gold" for another standing ovation from the enamored fans. "Heat Of The Sun" burned up the stage as Kenny's emotion once more flowed through his body and through the amps. The crowd continued their standing O as he played a jam of several minutes on the penultimate song that sounded like a high-speed car chase on guitar.
The final song of night, which came much too soon, was reminiscent of an old Mississippi blues song-turned-raucous version of "Shame, Shame, Shame." It was a perfect ending song as it embodied all the elements of the evening into one song, from slow ballad blues to an electric wonderland of guitar licks.
Nobody wanted to leave as everyone was spent after two hours of blues, rock, funk, Americana and everything in between. This is a major tour for 2022 and should be seen when it comes to an arena near you.
Special thanks to Laura Kring from Live Nation and the staff at House of Blues Dallas for their help.