G. Love & Special Sauce | 02.13.09

glove2.jpgHe strode back and forth across the stage, slapping fans’ hands and leading his band, Special Sauce, through two hours of non-stop jams.





w/ Eric Hutchinson
The Pageant, St. Louis

Just over a year ago, I watched G. Love struggle through his St. Louis show at the Pageant, his voice straining and the lyrics barely intelligible due to vocal hemorrhaging – an injury that could have ended his career. The long and grueling tour had caused him to have complete voice loss, canceling shows and eventually requiring surgery, completed in November. After remaining on vocal rest into December, he learned that the surgery was a success. For his fans packing The Pageant once again last Friday night, it was a complete comeback.

glove1.jpgThe venue filled up early with fans excited for some pre-Valentine’s Day G. Lovin’. Singer/songwriter Eric Hutchinson kicked things off with his funky, upbeat pop/rock (think Maroon 5 or Jamiroquai). He got the crowd going with catchy cuts like "You Don’t Have to Believe Me" and "Rock & Roll" from his debut album, Sounds Like This. Hutchinson’s voice is smooth and soulful and matched by his skills on the keys. He seemed to have quite a fan base of his own in the audience and got everyone primed and ready to rock.

G. Love took the stage around 9:30, dressed head to toe in black, and immediately brought it with "Back of the Bus." He strode back and forth across the stage, slapping fans’ hands and leading his band, Special Sauce, through two hours of non-stop jams. He started out strong with "I-76" and his signature, "Baby’s Got Sauce," then went into a few choice cuts from his acclaimed 2007 album Lemonade including "Holla," "Can’t Go Back to Jersey" and "Let the Music Play."

One noticeable difference for many fans was the absence of original and founding band member, upright bassist Jimi "Jazz" Prescott. G. Love announced Prescott’s departure in a very general statement on his web site just a couple weeks ago and introduced the new lineup of Special Sauce including original drummer Jeffrey "Houseman" Clemens joined by keyboardist Mark Boyce and Timo Shanko on bass and sax.

Although Prescott’s signature sound was missed at first, Shanko proved himself worthy, jamming with G. on "Booty Call," "Maxin’ Relaxin’" and fan favorite "Cold Beverages," working the crowd into a sweat as they chanted along, "Stick it in the fridge, stick it in the fridge, stick it in the fridge!"

G. then swapped his electric guitar for acoustic and pulled up a stool for a couple of his more mellow and introspective tunes, "Rainbows" (a duet he normally does with Jack Johnson) and "Hangin’ Round," both from Lemonade, highlighting his mad skills on the harmonica as well as his vocal abilities.

Plugged back in, he brought the show home with crowd-pleaser, "Who’s got the Weed" and "Peace, Love & Happiness" from his latest album, Superhero Brother – leaving the audience cheering and satisfied (and even more ready to party!) as the band took their final bows.

One thing is for sure, the ladies love G. Love (especially this one), and most of the guys there seemed to as well. In any case, I’m glad to see him back and spreading his one-of-a-kind musical joy. | Amy Burger

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