By Chyrisse Tabone, Rock At Night Tampa
Review: Keb’ Mo‘ at Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, Florida–February 10, 2021
It has been a week of reveling in Tampa Bay, Florida—first with the Superbowl win—and now patrons in Clearwater, Florida were treated to an evening of down-home blues with five-time Grammy winner Kevin Moore AKA Keb’ Mo’. It was a great way to continue the week’s celebratory mood.
Since the Superbowl, there has been a lot of concern with social distancing at events in Tampa Bay–but I did not see a maskless person at Ruth Eckerd Hall last night. Everyone was spread apart in the auditorium which holds 2,180 seats, and the venue continued its strict policies to keep everyone safe.
Wearing his customary hat and seated alone on the stage, Keb’ Mo’s performance felt like an intimate living room performance, in spite of the audience being spread out. Flanked by just a small amp, a carpet, and some mood lighting, Keb’ Mo’ began the evening with “Government Cheese”, much to the delight of the Baby Boomer audience.
With an evening filled of Americana and blues favorites, Keb’ Mo’ astonished the audience with his slide guitar playing, switching guitars for almost everyone song. He treated the audience to a newly penned song “Waiting for the Medicine Man” and informed the audience, “the song was written during and for the pandemic”.
Announcing the song as a “different version than the record”, Keb’ Mo’ performed “Oklahoma” before segueing into the poignant “Just Like You.”
There were a few moments of fumbling with the record stand, as Keb’ Mo’ stopped to turn a music page, however, this just made the concert feel more authentic—like he was playing in our living room. He apologized saying, “We haven’t rehearsed.” After playing “I Remember You” and Muddy Waters’ “Feel Like Going Home”, and appearing to be frustrated, he said “This really sucks.”
Some of the songs were actually requests from people in the audience, but Keb’ Mo’ got back on track saying, “I’m going to play it safe” and began singing Bill Withers’ “Grandma’s Hands.”
Possibly my personal favorite, “Shave Yo’ Legs”, could not have sounded more romantic than his heartfelt delivery that evening. Familiar ballads like “Life Is Beautiful” and “One Friend” were delivered with emotion, and took on a new meaning in light of the current global atmosphere.
Keb’ Mo’s lyrics are always deep and delivered with a soulfulness, which cuts to one’s heart. Ending the evening with “A Better Man”, he delivered hope, singing, “ I’ll just hold on the best I can…And if I fall down…I’ll just get back up…It’ll be alright…It’ll be ok.”