Steve Winwood was 15 years old when he started singing “Gimme Some Lovin” with the Spencer Davis Group.
Fifty-one years later he’s still nailing the high notes of that ancient party rave-up.
During Friday’s concert at the Fox Theatre, the tune showed up as Winwood’s second encore. He’d already been working his vocal cords for 90 minutes that night. His one concession to age? He sang “Gimme Some Lovin’” in F-sharp instead of G.
Besides cutting himself a semi-tone of slack, Winwood spared no effort at Friday’s show, serving up tunes from throughout his extensive catalog and sharing the spotlight liberally with his fine bandmates.
A godfather of keyboard-based rock and roll, Winwood included songs from his years in Traffic (“Glad,” “Dear Mr. Fantasy”) Blind Faith (“Can’t Find My Way Home”) and his successful solo career (“Higher Love” “Dirty City”).
When, during the course of the show, Winwood traded his Hammond B3 for an electric guitar, the multi-talented reed-man Paul Booth took over ably at the organ.
Drummer Richard Bailey and percussionist Café (also called Edson Aparecido da Silva) swept the evening into their rhythmic grid, while Jose Neto kept things interesting with his unorthodox fingerstyle and his mutant electric guitar.
Opening Friday’s show was Jesup, Ga. native Randall Bramblett and his band. Bramblett spent 16 years as a member of Winwood’s touring band, and he and Winwood share a soulful sound and fluency on multiple instruments.
Bramblett played keyboards but also ripped a commanding sax solo in his standout tune “John the Baptist,” in which he imagines the prophet in an Athens bar, not feeling or looking his best: “You got a long distance stare/ From the bottom of the well/ You might be an angel but you look like hell.”