Timothy B. Schmit
Richie Furay

December 3, 2017
Saban Theatre
Los Angeles, CA

Review by Shawn Perry
Photos by L. Paul Mann

Not one to sit idle between Eagles tours, bassist and vocalist Timothy B. Schmit pulled a 13-date 2017 Fall run together to promote his sixth solo album from 2016, Leap Of Faith, and play songs from it as well as others from previous solo records, along with some key Eagles and Poco numbers. For his appearance at the Saban Theatre in Los Angeles, Schmit invited his former band mate from Poco, Richie Furay, also a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer as a founding member of Buffalo Springfield, to open the show.

For the lucky few hundred who made it to the famed art deco venue in the heart of Beverly Hills, you couldn't ask for a better night of classic music. At precisely 8:00, Furay, his daughter Jesse, and guitarist Scott Sellen took their places at the front of the stage to perform a rousing 11-song set filled with Poco, Buffalo Springfield and solo pieces.

Making his mark with Buffalo Springfield over 50 years ago, Furay at 73 still lifts the music with his distinct and passionate high tenor, perfectly attuned to the climate and mood of his country rock roots. He opened with two Poco favorites —"Let's Dance Tonight" and "Pickin' Up the Pieces” — to get the crowd revved up before moving on to one of his best known Buffalo Springfield songs, "Kind Woman."

Instilling the holiday spirit into the proceedings, Furay offered up a delightful cover of The Band's "Christmas Must Be Tonight." Before launching into "We Were The Dreamers," from his 2015 album Hand In Hand, Furay explained that the song was about Poco, the band he and Schmit were members of. Regarding Schmit, the singer added, "He's in a big group now."

The last four numbers were from Buffalo Springfield's first two albums, including Neil Young's "Flying On The Ground Is Wrong," "Do I Have To Come Right Out And Say It" and "Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing," which were all featured on the band's self-titled debut and originally sung by Furay (likely because he had the best voice in the group). He finished up with his own "Sad Memory" from 1967's Buffalo Springfield Again. Supported by the stellar guitar work of Sellen, along with a little tambourine shaking and melodic backing vocals from Jesse, Furay played an easy-going, elegant 40-minute set. He would be back later in the night.

After a 20-minute break, it was Schmit's turn, and for the next two hours-plus, he dipped deep into a potent, gem-filled songbook. The set featured four songs from Leap Of Faith, but there were eight songs pulled from 2009's Expando, an album likely more suited for live interplay. Without so much as a word, Schmit kicked right into "One More Mile," and a comforting hush fell over the room with a twinkling glow.

The core band of top-notch players included Hank Linderman on guitar, Chris Farmer on keyboards/bass, and Herman Matthews on drums. Bobby Carlos, whose day job is being the bass tech for the Eagles, popped up on stage from time to time, playing bass, guitar and ukulele. The Doobie Brothers' John McFee was also a frequent presence, playing guitar, pedal steel and violin on several numbers. Six songs in, the band was joined by three backing vocalists — Marlena Jeter, Lynn Fidmont and Mortinette Jenkins — whose soulful harmonies and choreographed moves added loads of personality to the show.

Sporting a beard (!), Schmit played acoustic guitar for most of the night, taking up bass at various turns, and even brandishing a well-worn Telecaster at one point. He also tooted on his harmonica when a song called for it. He kept it simple and mellow for the most part, and the band did an exceptional job of maintaining the mood. Of course, what thrilled most everyone in the audience was Schmit's voice, another unblemished high tenor that's only gotten better and more assured over time.

After "Red Dirt Road," Schmit remarked how great it was to have Richie Furay on the bill. That admiration would come to full bloom as the night went on. Then he went into "Ella Jean," a song Schmit said he wrote when his wife went to Hawaii while he was in the studio. He followed up with "White Boy From Sacramento," which featured the trio of backup singers pointing the singer out during the choruses.

Linderman, Schmit's right-hand man with "great hair" on both Leap Of Faith and Expando, slayed several guitar solos over the course of the night, and even traded licks with John McFee on "Parachute" and the Eagles' "I Can't Tell You Why." Before going into the latter, Schmit talked about presenting the song to Don Henley and Glenn Frey for inclusion on the Eagles' The Long Run album. The song would go on to become a Top 10 hit, the last one for the Eagles.

In another nod to his Eagles brethren, Schmit dedicated "Peaceful, Easy Feeling" to Frey, the song's author who died in 2016, during his solo spot without accompaniment. There wasn't a dry eye in the house afterwards. But the frowns turned upside-down when the Poco songs rolled out. It started with "I Can See Everything," from the 1972 album of the same name, and continued later with "Keep On Tryin'" from the 1975's Head Over Heels. Although Furay didn't appear on the original recording, he joined Schmit for a version that had everyone chiming in.

Before finishing up, Schmit once again praised Furay, saying it was humbling to have his mentor open the show for him. He added that it only made sense they close with Poco's "A Good Feelin' To Know," written and performed on stage by Furay. While the show was mostly a laid-back, sit-down affair, this last one had everyone on their feet, cheering the players on.

Schmit's solo tour wraps December 17 in Phoenix. Then after the holiday, he'll join the Eagles in 2018 for an extensive four-month trek around the States. If you ever wanted to see two Rock and Roll Hall of Famers up close and personal in an intimate setting, the Saban was the place to be on this glorious Sunday night.

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