Concert review: Boz Scaggs @ Ruth Eckerd Hall, Thurs., July 2

Most pop singers from the ’60s and ’70s who are fortunate enough to still be touring resort to what I call vocal cheats. That’s when they get to a point in an old hit that has a particularly high note they can’t hit — a note that especially resonates with the baby-boomer audience — so they either drop it an octave or turn it over to the background singers.

There’s nothing really shameful about these vocal cheats — it would be worse, for instance, if Daryl Hall tried to hit that big release note in “She’s Gone” and failed miserably. Or if Roger Daltrey attempted to render the big scream in “Won’t Get Fooled Again” and sounded like a frog.

I tell you all this because I saw Boz Scaggs last night at Ruth Eckerd Hall and he didn’t resort to any vocal cheats. He’s 65 years old. Very impressive. When, on “Lido Shuffle,” it came time for the “Lido, whoa, whoa” part, he was right on it — with the backup singers helping, yes, but not drowning him out and thus protecting him. Scaggs came up a little short or a little thin on some of the high notes, but he went for them all.

It wasn’t just the lack of vocal cheats that made Scaggs’ 75-minute set in front of a near-sold-out crowd a success. His voice still has that full, creamy texture of the old days, and his delivery and phrasing brimmed with nuance. (more photos below; all are by Tracy May)

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About The Author

Eric Snider

Eric Snider is the dean of Bay area music critics. He started in the early 1980s as one of the founding members of Music magazine, a free bi-monthly. He was the pop music critic for the then-St. Petersburg Times from ‘87-’93. Snider was the music critic, arts editor and senior editor of Weekly Planet/Creative...
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