Dave Stewart & Friends

September 29, 2012
West Hollywood, CA

Review by Chantel Donnan
Photos by Ron Lyon

The evening’s entertainment was slated as “Dave Stewart and Friends.” Outside LA’s Troubadour, fans were lined around the block and making excited predictions about who these “friends” might be. Thanks to social outlets like Twitter, most knew that Australian guitarist Orianthi would be in tow, and young aspiring rockers (like the two 16-year-olds in front of me) couldn’t wait to see her do her thing. Other fans guessed that Joss Stone might make an appearance, and some very optimistic folks speculated that Mick Jagger would duck walk his way across the Troubadour stage. But regardless of the guests-to-be, everyone was most thrilled to see the man himself: Dave Stewart, king of acts like the Eurythmics and SuperHeavy, and renowned producer for some of music’s most talented artists.

The night got off to an extraordinary start, with singer Thomas Lindsey as the opening act. The a capella vocalist ran up and down the stage without moving his feet, as his vocal runs left the room breathless and in awe. The man was the male counterpart to Christina Aguilera – and I mean that as a tremendous compliment. The set was short and sweet, but the room was electric with excitement for what was to come. Thankfully, Stewart came quick on the heels of Lindsey’s performance, dressed in black from top hat to toe, glitter shining from his face and clothing, and with the words “Sweet Dreams” in crystal on his guitar strap.

Sharing the stage was Stewart’s band: guitarist Orianthi, keyboardist Dana Glover, bassist Nik West, harmonica/harp/and saxophone player Jimmy Z (also from the Eurythmics), backup vocalist Amy Keys, drummer Randy Cook, and accordion player Kieran Kiely. They started off with performances of “So Long Ago,” “Beast Called Fame,” and the Tom Petty classic, “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” which was co-written by Stewart.

Stewart was careful to put together an intricate, well rounded set that included classic Eurythmics hits, crowd-pleasing cover songs, and some beautiful acoustic nuggets off his latest solo album, Blackbird Diaries. He was even nostalgic at times, as he reminisced about each song before playing. Fans watched adoringly as he played the slower songs (a personal favorite of mine being the dark, hauntingly beautiful “One Way Ticket to the Moon”), and sang along loudly and proudly with the hits like “Sweet Dreams.”

But now you might be thinking, “Yes, yes, Dave is great, but what about his friends?” I am happy to report that Stewart was incredibly generous with his stage time, and he brought a powerhouse bunch of guest artists to fill the evening. He began with a little family magic, bringing his daughter and son Kaya and Djanga center stage for a performance of “Missionary Man.”

Djanga danced around like a real showman, and even flirted a little with keyboardist Glover, but it was Kaya that blew the crowd away. At 12 years old, this girl has the face of a cherub and the voice and soul of Aretha Franklin, and she gave everything she had to her performance that night.

Orianthi also got a chance to showcase her vocal chops, as she performed her single off her upcoming album, “Heaven in this Hell.” Grammy-award winning pop star Colbie Callait had her turn at the microphone, singing with Stewart on “Bullet Proof Vest,” Dana Glover took lead vocals on “Here Comes the Rain Again,” and Aussie singer Vanessa Amorosi turned the Troubadour’s showroom into a hot, girl power haven during her performance of “Sisters are Doin it for Themselves.”

The stand-out performance in my mind was Australian pop sensation Delta Goodrem’s performance of “You Have Placed a Chill.” She took that song and brought it forth with such honestly and emotion (not to mention an outstanding vocal range) that it was hard to forget even days after the performance.

Of course, Stewart ended his set with his sing-along performance of “Sweet Dreams,” but he still had one last trick up his sleeve. For his encore, the infamous John Mayer joined the band to play guitar. They played “Gypsy Girl and Me” and a medley of “Slow Motion Addict” and “Different Man Now,” and Mayer worked his guitar like the master of the instrument that he is. Fans left the show satisfied in the extreme, and I left with a newfound respect for the skill with which Dave Stewart can put together a show.

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