Sunday nights at Ravinia in Highland Park, Illinois is the place to be in the summer. It does matter who the artist for the week ending celebration is, but sometimes just being there is all that matters. One of the last good outdoor concerts for 2011 was John Hiatt & The Combo with special guest Big Head Todd and the Monsters. Special they were and definitely good bands to see with someone special.
On the warm evening Big Head Todd and the Monsters started the show out and did so with style. The wonderful music being played out for the concert goers was very easy on the ears. Since the late 80’s this band has been knocking ‘em dead in concert halls across the country.
The band was led through a valiant performance by the big head himself, Todd Park Mohr. He played and sang all while hitting the mark every time. As he brought the crowd to their knees a few times during the show begging for more, Todd himself was one cool character hamming it up for more applause.
Behind Todd was a monumental band. Brian Nevin on drums had just a rock solid performance and could be heard within every hard hit that he was having a good night. His sticks were tapping out the meter with clock like precision. He laid down the ground work for everyone to follow and they did.
In comes Rob Squires on bass guitar and he gives everyone a lesson on how the bass is really supposed to be played. There have been lots of low end legends that have been admired for their skills, but the underrated Squires needs to be looked at a little closer. His playing is amazing! The bottom end locks with the drums and they become invincible. A rock solid rhythm section is what they become.
On keyboards Jeremy Lawton fills out the band nicely. The black and whites got a good tickling during this performance. His mix and support within this group brings it all together to make a band of monumental proportions. They are Big Head Todd and the Monsters.
During the brief intermission some audience members ran to the bathrooms while others went to go get in line for refreshments. Some ran out to the designated smoking area for a couple. Others just sat and relaxed in the seats.
John Hiatt & The Combo was up next and Hiatt picked away some country folk rock ditties that were pretty amazing. He went to town again and again on his guitar giving it a good once over a dozen or so times. How can a band follow up Big Head Todd? They better be on the caliber of John Hiatt.
John Hiatt was out on tour promoting his new CD Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns. The songs he did play from this newly created art work were nothing less than a masterpiece. This definitely was a performance well received by the audience.
Some of the older gentleman were either past their bedtimes or just partied too much before the concert. Their wives or girlfriends gave nudges to them a few times as they nodded off in their seats as the show did run beyond nine. One lady saw her companion nearing the snoring mark and insisted that they leave immediately and so they did.
The night continued on with a great rhythm section backing John Hiatt. The Combo was a simple bass and drums combination that wasn’t so simple. These two musicians were a show all by themselves. The grooves that were done up for everyone’s enjoyment couldn’t have been more on the level. The show continued like this for the entire performance of John Hiatt & The Combo. They were amazing!
Ravinia has an ability to bring out the best in talent for their stage. They put on great shows all summer long unfortunately the 2011 summer calendar at Ravinia is running thin. John Hiatt & The Combo with special guests Big Head Todd and the Monsters is a great way for Ravinia enthusiasts to say goodbye for the summer. The evil old man winter is just around the corner and we will daydream about these warm moments with good music, family, or friends. A smile comes to our face and we once again thank John and Todd for this magnificent show and a night out with that special someone. It’s a moment that won’t soon be forgotten.