Blues Traveler was strong but slow
Blues Traveler, the blues rock quartet headed by John Popper, played a solid performance here at Leede Arena Sunday night to a moderately sized but enthusiastic crowd that was composed mostly of non-Dartmouth students.
Agents of the Good Roots, a Richmond, Va., band, opened the show with a solid 45-minute set. The guitar driven rock songs off their album "One by One" got the crowd excited and into their music. J.C. Kuhl on the saxophone captured the audience's attention with a few great solos.
Blues Traveler, currently on a tour of college campuses, followed with a two-and-a-half-hour set that got off to a lethargic start but picked up energy as the night progressed.
Starting with an enthusiastic "Carolina Blues," the band got the somewhat sedate audience on its feet and dancing by the end of the song. "Stand" and "Felicia" off the band's more recent releases "Four" and "Straight On Till Morning" followed.
The band then switched gears and played three older songs, "Psyche," "But Anyway," and "Mulling it Over." The latter song, off their self-titled release, included a very long harmonica solo, with John Popper seeming to get lost in his own world of playing.
Next they played "Canadian Rose" off "Straight On Till Morning" followed by a block of new songs, lesser known songs and covers. The audience's enthusiasm dwindled on the new and unknown songs, but everyone sang along to their impressive cover of Steve Miller Band's "The Joker." Kuhl of Agents of Good Roots and Popper took turns playing their hearts out on a cover of War's "Low Rider."
Then Popper was back in true form on the harmonica, playing amazing solos in their new song "The Path" and "Business as Usual." This was followed by "Manhattan Bridge," a rocking performance of "The Mountains Win Again" off Four, and "Trust in Trust."
The old favorite "Hook" was greeted by huge cheers from the crowd, especially on Popper's harmonica solos. Andrew Winn from Agents of Good Roots joined Blues Traveler for a kind of free form jam session on "Mountain Cry" before the band left the stage.
As an encore, Popper and company performed the southern country sounding "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" before throwing harmonicas and drumsticks into the crowd and exiting the stage for good.
Although the long instrumental digressions and lack of band-audience interaction may have bored some, overall, Blues Traveler played a solid and interesting set, mixing the old, the new and the familiar.