Travelers & Thieves

Blues Traveler

Aragon Ballroom - Chicago

October 21, 1995

First Appeared in The Music Box, January/February 1996, Volume 3, #1

Written by John Metzger


Blues Traveler passed through Chicago last October for a two-night run at the Aragon Ballroom. Both shows sold-out, and at least the Saturday show seemed as if the promoter had sold more tickets than the place could hold. The band played two full sets on Saturday, and the group, oddly enough, seemed to remember back in March when an audience member repeatedly screamed for Gina. What Blues Traveler didn't play then, it certainly made up for this time around. The song popped up in bits and pieces sporadically throughout the show, with the first portion coming mid-way through the first set.

Both sets opened on a surprisingly mellow note, with Blues Traveler tackling Slow Change the first time out and 100 Years in the second round. Other highlights for the first set included a cover of The Beatles' Come Together and a powerfully moving version of Crystal Flame, which provided merely a shadow of what was to come.

Indeed, the latter half of the show was picture perfect, opening with a beautiful pairing of 100 Years and Sweet Pain. The latter wound around and around and concluded with a wonderful jam led by bassist Bobby Sheehan. As if this wasn't enough, Blues Traveler then twisted its way into Go Outside and Drive. This was not quite as good as the version performed at the Vic Theater in March. The group quickly ground through a Low Rider tease before ending up in the low point of the night Run Around. At this point, the audience turned from being unobtrusive to incredibly irritating. The band was obviously bored to tears with the song, but not surprisingly, the crowd went nuts for it, yelling non-stop. The up-side of hearing this song fairly early in the set was that many people LEFT the club. Fortunately, the enthusiasm returned to the ensemble as it wound its way back into Go Outside and Drive via Beck's Loser.

As for Gina, snippets of it popped up twice in the second set. Initially, it led into Regarding Stephen, an incredible, moving composition. This led into a powerful version of Imagine, a song that Blues Traveler had contributed to Working Class Hero: A Tribute to John Lennon. This wound back into the 3rd appearance of Gina before plowing into a killer Ivory Tusk followed by a totally jammed Mountain Cry. The second low point of the night crept in during the encore of Sweet Home Chicago, a tune that is performed far too often in the Windy City. Despite this final letdown, it was one hell of a show. Blues Traveler is definitely back on track, and for those who might have drifted away as the group delved into its "metal" period, it's worth giving the band another chance.

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Copyright 1996 The Music Box