Bruce Hornsby | 04.23.06

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Hornsby also presented a number of newer songs, including “The Dreaded Spoon,” a crowd favorite that kept the audience laughing as Hornsby lamented his father’s penchant for stealing his sons’ ice cream when they weren’t paying attention.

 

The Sheldon Concert Hall, St. Louis

Walking in the Sheldon Concert Hall foyer, there was a bit of a nip to the air, and the wind blew some leaves in through the open door behind me. Walking into the Hall proper, the stage was set up simply: a lone piano. It could’ve been the stage for anyone: Mozart, Herbie Hancock, David Helfgott. Your usual crowd is on hand for the performance: well-dressed, middle-aged men and their equally well-dressed, middle-aged companions, an older fellow wearing a tweed jacket with patches on the elbows, and….a Deadhead? Hey, wait a minute—isn’t that Tony LaRussa? What kind of a show is this?

Stepping onstage, LaRussa gave a heartfelt introduction to his friend Bruce Hornsby that included a few words about the benefit show this evening. A fundraiser for Friends of the Sheldon—an organization that introduces 20,000 young people each year to jazz, folk, blues, classical music, and the American musical through educational programs—Hornsby was on hand to provide entertainment, and fortunately, the evening was nearly a sell out.

Hornsby was jovial throughout the evening, often pausing between numbers to reach down near his piano bench to sift through the numerous song requests fans had left for him prior to the show. He seemed in a good mood as he toyed with some of his more vocal fans.

Hornsby started things off with a melodious version of his biggest hit, 1986’s “The Way It Is.” He then tore through a number of other familiar favorites, including “Mandolin Rain,” “A Night on the Town,” “Rainbow’s Cadillac,” “ End of the Innocence,” and “The Valley Road.” Hornsby also presented a number of newer songs, including “The Dreaded Spoon,” a crowd favorite that kept the audience laughing as Hornsby lamented his father’s penchant for stealing his sons’ ice cream when they weren’t paying attention. He also played a Jerry Garcia tune—“Walking on the Moon”—that had the Deadheads in the audience wanting more.

The show was a comprehensive collection of songs from one of America’s finest singer/songwriters. Hornsby masterfully kept the audience’s attention throughout the briskly paced set with his skillful playing—his dexterous fingers glided up and down the keys with effortless ease—and assured (and sometimes sarcastic) banter. The added bonus of this particular performance was the location: Sheldon Concert Hall has some of the best acoustics of any performance venue in the country. In combination with an artist like Bruce Hornsby, the pairing was absolutely perfect.
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