Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

August 27, 2014

Jonny Lang/Runaway Saints

Mahaiwe, Great Barrington, MA
August 21, 2014
by Eric Sutter

Denim-clad alt-country band Runaway Saints debuted their sound at Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center to an enthusiastic response. These Nashville, by way of Providence, RI, songsters sang about loves lost, found, and shared in an acoustic folk-rock/country format. The band opened with the love song "Caroline." Stand-outs in the course of the evening included "Loretta Lynn," about missing her voice on the radio; "California's Girl," about losing a woman to the Golden State, and a rave-up rootsy rock song "We Got Love" with mandolin, guitar and banjo. "Headed Home" carried it full circle to their next day's gig back home in Pawtucket.

This stop at Mahaiwe was important because it was the last venue on their current tour to feature Jonny Lang. Jonny Lang's new century sound is a slight departure from his 1997 debut blues-rock style. Part blues-rocker and soul singer, his approach added a sweeter soul sound to his vocal. Always edgy and passionate, Lang projected a strong stage presence with tribal inspired rhythms that resonated in the soul. The scorcher "Blew Up (the House)" was electric. "Freight Train" was powered by his frenzied lead electric guitar delivery. The Tinsley Ellis cover, "A Quitter Never Wins," harkened back to the debut album "Lie To Me."

The title cut of Lang's 2007 Grammy winner, "Turn Around," expressed turning life around in its lyrics. Rhythm guitarist Akil Thompson turned out a great solo on "Red Light." Lang showcased nice guitar tone throughout. Stand-out funky keyboardist Dwan Hill also hit the mic on Stevie Wonder's "Livin' For The City.” Lang found his true voice on his own "Fight For My Soul" from his first studio album. This time around, a fresh, crisp joyful sound filled the hall with spirited passion. Connecting effortlessly with the audience, Lang performed  "Wander This World." His encore was the familiar "Lie To Me" featuring a subtle acoustic guitar with a break-in by his blues band in a full tilt finale. Right on!