Words and photos by Paul Piazza.
Hotshot blues guitarist Jonny Lang has been wowing audiences since he was a lad of 12 when he first started sitting in with a local blues group in Fargo, North Dakota. On January 21, Lang, who is now 33, played the Crest Theatre and showed a great deal of the firepower he’s known for—along with some musical versatility and songwriting maturity. Lang came out rockin’ with a great new cut called “Blew Up (The House)” and played many of his well known blues songs including “Red Light” during the first part of the show. Then, he transitioned into a more soulful stretch that featured a great cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Living for the City” along with some tender vocal expressions. Lang’s voice amazed with it’s wide range and power, going from raspy blues baritone to soulful falsetto.
Lang’s band was the same he has toured with for nearly a decade, with the exception of bassist Sonny Thompson, who joned recently. Thompson, a Minneapolis native, wowed the audience with the same chops he’s brought out on the road as the bassist for fellow Minneapolis native Prince for many years. But naturally, it was the virtuoso guitarist who was the center of attention for most of night, as he leaned back frequently and ripped, giving the audience what they wanted with his dynamic and distinctive vibrato playing style. Show closer “Lie to Me” started with Lang solo acoustic, built up to a fiery climax with him being joined by the rest of the band, and finished in a way that sent the crowd soaring joyously onto K Street on this mild January night.
Here’s how the show looked through the lens: