Colin James rolled his “Blue Highways” tour into the Orpheum Wednesday night and took the audience for a ride with some standards that shaped what was already in his blood.
However not a week earlier, he had to cancel his show in Kelowna as a cold virus took it’s toll on his vocal chords. I want whatever he takes for a cold next time, because his voice was in fine form.
James started out his set showcasing his new album, a selection of blues covers that he has admittedly been playing his entire career. The musicianship was on point from the entire stage yet that unmistakeable ‘Colin James’ edgy thumbprint made these standards fresh and vibrant. Songs like “Boogie Funk” made you think immediately of “La Grange”…that kind of loose jam made you appreciate his guitar virtuosity. He also took some time to share some stories
I would have paid you a hundred dollars if you could keep your body still during the entire show. Tons of 4-on-the-floor driving rhythm with a different guitar and amp combination for each. You could tell his guitar tone was equally important to all the other factors in each song.
Set list wise, we were taken back through his catalog, including his cover of “Into the Mystic”. Near the end of the set the audience was up and dancing, at one point providing a loud sing-along to “Just Came Back” and “Keep on Loving Me Baby”.
There were several standing ovations that prompted a return with a 4 song encore. Noticeably missing: “Voodoo Thing”. But frankly, there was plenty of hits from his deep playlist that left everyone satisfied.
Opener Tami Neilson also did a fantastic job of warming up the crowd with her deep soulful genre-defying set. She’s big in New Zealand; “I married one” she quipped, “not the drummer though” laughingly and she was also accompanied by her brother Joshua ‘Jay’ Nielson. One could see why she has won more than a few awards as a Kiwi country artist as her powerful voice filled the venue.
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written by/photos by Scotty Evil