Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Lang Lets Guitar Do His Talking

Johnny Lang -- so close we could see him sweat
When an amp briefly malfunctioned at his concert at Horseshoe Casino in Elizabeth, Ind., last weekend, bluesman Johnny Lang lamented the fact that he’d have to talk a bit, which he said isn’t his strong suit. True to his word, Lang doesn’t play to the audience like Buddy Guy does. He doesn’t scream out your hometown. Heck, he rarely even opens his eyes. But that’s OK because Lang lets his guitar do his talking for him.

Lang rollicked through some of his most well-known tunes, including “Rack’em Up” and “Red Light.” He also covered the great Muddy Waters. Even the lesser known tunes delighted with pure, unbridled energy, thanks to a talented band.

At times, the event seemed more like an old-fashioned revival than a concert. If that were the case, then the most spiritual moment occurred when Lang appeared on stage alone and played a heartfelt version of his biggest hit, “Lie to Me,” on acoustic guitar. Once Lang had seemingly finished, the band rejoined him and they romped through it once more. This time it was fully powered and plugged, providing a nice contrast.

I’ve now seen Lang twice. In that time, he has grown from the warm-up act to the featured performer. No one works harder. He seemingly agonizes through every guitar lick and high note, sweating through his t-shirt as he goes. (Trust me, we were close enough to see every bead, thanks to winning a Facebook contest).

And if a few words remained unspoken, no one seemed to mind.

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