When Leon Russell took the stage at the Granada at 10 Thursday night, he walked with a cane and moved at a considerably slower rate than the younger members of his band. He sat down at the keyboards to a thundering ovation from a sold out crowd.
And for the first 30 minutes or so, not much happened - except a lot of noise from his back-up musicians.
I'm not sure if the sound engineers planned to have Russell's playing and voice obliterated by the new kids, but I could barely pick out his work at the keyboard and could not understand a word he sang - and I know the lyrics to all his songs.
This was particulary distressing when they played one of my all-time Russell favorites, "Lady Blue." There was no nuance. No gentleness paid to the lyrics of the beautiful love song. Ruined a perfectly good song with too much of the new kids and very little Russell.
Then, about 6 songs in, the fog lifted, the new kids faded into the background and the real Leon began to shine.
I particularly liked Russell's cover of "Wild Horses," his arrangement of "Delta Lady," "Georgia," "Back to the Island" and, of course, "A Song For You."
Nevermind that there was a sold out crowd watching his every move.
When the tune began, he flipped his sunglasses up and looked right at me as he sang ".... we're alone now, and I'm singing this song for you."
Yep. Leon and I had a moment.
"The Union," Russell's new CD with Sir Elton John is due out Tuesday. Pretty good gig for a 68-year-old boy from Lawton, Oklahoma.
Still no word on my request for an interview, but a girl can hope.
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