Boz Scaggs Lowdown
It’s time to face the sad, sad truth. The dirty lowdown.
Truth is, Boz Scaggs, the critically acclaimed singer-songwriter who lit up the charts in the 1970s and ’80s, didn’t live up to the billing built for him over five decades in an appearance Wednesday night in Las Vegas.
Scaggs is touring in support of his latest album, “A Fool to Care.” He played to a comfortably crowded Smith Center audience, nine stops into a U.S. tour that continues into August.
Most of those in attendance were in their 50s and beyond and likely had been introduced to Scaggs in the mid-’70s when he released “Silk Degrees,” his top-selling album that produced some of his biggest hits, including his trademarks “Lowdown” and “Lido Shuffle.” Even the opening act, solo artist Rayland Baxter, mentioned his introduction to Scaggs via “Silk Degrees.”
“I’ve got hip to that album … probably a little later on than you guys did,” the 31-year-old deadpanned.
(My friends, having put up with me pulling out various Scaggs’ albums during late-night songfests through the years, can attest to my appreciation of the Grammy Award winner’s music).
Alas, the spark that ignited listeners’ passion for Scaggs many years ago never seemed to gain fuel during his 1-hour and 45-minute set Wednesday.
Maybe the venue was to blame? After his first song, “Runnin Blue,” off the early ’70s album “Boz Scaggs and Band,” Scaggs marveled about the Smith Center's beauty. But he also added, “I miss the cigarette smell and the ching, ching, ching that lets me know I’m in Vegas.”
It may have been that Scaggs didn’t unwrap any of his “Silk Degrees” cuts until five songs into his set with “Harbor Lights.” Not until his 12th song did he unleash the first of his biggest hits, “Lowdown,” and by then the audience had set its tone. There was little emotion in the Smith Center hall and even less soul.
The musicians backing Scaggs were on top of their game. How couldn’t they be, playing a range of music from country to retro rock to blues to Latin? Lending backup vocals was Conesha Monet Owens, aka “Ms. Monet,” and she delivered a solid performance, including her cover of Bonnie Raitt’s “Something to Talk About.”
Scaggs, at 70, still showed the vocal skills and range he displayed in his heyday. But throughout the evening, something was missing — probably more of Scaggs’ hits. Left for another concert were his famous ballads “Look What You’ve Done to Me” and “We’re All Alone,” and, despite the late B.B. King’s advice to always leave them wanting more, Scaggs might have left his Las Vegas audience wanting a little too much Wednesday.
The “A Fool to Care Tour” stop setlist: “Runnin’ Blue” (1971), “Mixed Up, Shook Up Girl” (2013), “I’m a Fool to Care” (2015), “Hell to Pay” (2015), “Harbor Lights” (1976), “Gone Baby Gone” (2013), “Rich Woman” (2015), “Georgia” (1976), “Hey Miss Sun” (1980), “Something to Talk About” (1991), “Last Tango on 16th Street” (2015), “Lowdown” (1976) and “What Can I Say?” (1976).
Encore: “There’s a Storm a Comin’ ” (2015), “Lido Shuffle” (1976) and “Loan Me a Dime” (1969).
Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” fame has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past 15 years giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.
Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.
John Taylor is the copy chief of the Las Vegas Sun.