Hootie & The Blowfish
(DTE Energy Theatre, Clarkston, MI – Thursday July 3rd)
Hootie & the Blowfish's mainstream pop variation of blues-rock may well have brought the band to the top of the charts in 1995, but it’s their love for what they do and passion for their devoted fans that keeps them in the public eye today. Stepping out on stage as a whole, no fireworks, no big introduction, no fanfare of any sort beckons their entrance. In fact, if you weren’t paying attention, the only way you’d have known the band were on stage was when they struck up the instruments and Darius’ vocal tones wrapped themselves around the lyrics of ’Go And Tell Him’!
Hootie & The Blowfish (aka Darius Rucker, Mark Bryan, Dean Felber, and Jim "Soni" Sonefeld) are so beloved it hurts sometimes! The fans love them, the media loves them, and their wives love them! What a world they adorn! ’Space,’ ‘Little Darlin’,’ ‘I Will Wait,’ and the first single from their new self-titled album ’Innocence’ are then all performed to the hilt. Singing ’Let Her Cry,’ [”… a song I sang when I was drunk a lot back in the ‘80s”, he freely admits] Rucker is so into the song you can almost envision his eyes rolling back into his head! ’I Go Blind’ and the bluesy ’Little Brother’ are brought to the fore next, and as Darius takes flowers handed to him from the front row, a big, huge smile becomes emblazoned upon his face. Darius is happy!
Throughout the entire set, whether he has a guitar or just a mic in his hands, Darius’ body slinks, sways, and slides through a various set of motions. Never still, the bands rhythm finds him at almost every note. ’Time’, with it’s opening of a darkened set with just a white solo spot on Darius, is next to the ecstasy of the crowd, whereupon the back lights fire out streams of red, white and blue beams.
The Led Zeppelin cover ’Hey Hey What Can I Do’ is next with the Peter Holts-written track (aka the fifth Blowfish!) ’Rain Song’ following close behind. From Musical Chairs comes ’Wishing’ before a cappella rendition of Nelly’s ’Ride Wit Me’ and Blackstreet’s ’No Diggity’ before running straight into a sometimes funky version of ’Hold My Hand’.
”Thanks for having us” Darius exclaims as they come back out on stage for their encore. An encore that – if there had been a roof – would have lifted it right off! Both ’Only Wanna Be With You’ and the Doobie Bros’ ’Blackwater’ are sung to the maximum, and they even had time to throw in some ’Walk This Way’ in the middle!
Hootie & The Blowfish are just pure musical, unadulterated class from start to finish! Their music is fun, tells stories along the way and their shows are one giant sing-a-long just like the old days. Catch the show of the summer again next year ... and then the year after that!
Photos & Review by Russell A. Trunk