LIVE: Dave Mason & Steve Cropper Rock & Soul Revue @ The Egg, 8/22/18

Review by Don Wilcock
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

In great artistic collaborations, 1 + 1 = 4 or more. Dave Mason and Steve Cropper are great artists, but for their collaboration on their Rock and Soul Revue 1 + 1 = 1 1/2 with Steve Cropper contributing the one half. I love them both, and each demonstrated why they are legacy artists, but watching them try to work together in concert at The Egg’s Hart Theatre on Wednesday was like seeing a male ballet dancer try to slow dance with James Brown. When Cropper and Mason played guitar together their efforts seemed tentative and careful rather than transcendent.

And when one or the other left the stage to give his partner the center of attention, it became obvious that it was Mason’s rodeo, not Cropper’s in part because it was Mason’s band that was backing them both up. This worked fine on Mason’s numbers like “The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys,” “Can’t Find My Way Home,” “Only You Know and I Know,” and especially on “Feelin’ All Right” and Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” with Mason sharing vocals with Gretchen Rhodes. But the Memphis Stax-Volt soul stew cried out for Booker T. on organ and Duck Dunn on bass. As great a guitarist as Cropper is, he could not take “Green Onions” over the top.

Sometimes you can’t go back. Mason quipped early in the show that it was nice to be here and then added, “At my age it’s nice to be anywhere.” Cropper told the half-a-house crowd of about 600 that he always enjoyed hearing his songs on the radio, but never expected them to provide background music for “adult diapers” like “Green Onions” does for Depends. Rhodes, whose resume includes nine years with Mick Fleetwood’s Island Rumours Band, offered up the highlight of the Memphis soul sound with her vocals on “When Something Is Wrong with My Baby.” Other Stax Volt gems were sometimes anemic: “In the Midnight Hour,” “Knock on Wood,” “Hip Hug Her,” “Try a Little Tenderness” and “Soul Man.”

LIVE: Dave Mason & Steve Cropper Rock & Soul Revue @ The Egg, 8/22/18 (Take Two)

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