Podcast here : http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1250771
I was there.
I have to say that this was the first time I was disapointed with a Ben Harper show. This show was night and day compare to the 1999 show at the State Plalace theater during jazz fest. The first time I saw Ben was on the Eel river in Garberville, CA. in 1996 and I was blown away. He dictated the mood that we all felt that night. This show was so flat and popish. The raw energy was simply not there. I had been looking at the set list up until this show and was very dissapointed that it seemed as if Ben was choosing the same songs, with minimal exceptions, for every show. I appriciate that Ben is trying to promote his new alblum, however, the new alblum just lacks the luster that the previous ones had. Please don't become Lenny Kravitz Ben. Play more "Vintage Ben Harper". I love ya and will keep buying your alblums knowing that you can move an audience to tears. Not on this day though.
Imagine walking out in to a crowd of thousands of people on a spring afternoon ,flags waving, people drinking, and everyone thinking the same thing,"How lucky we are to be here." The concert was amazing and the whole band was on. Ben is so intense and seems to gravitate a crowds respect and admiration.
Sitting in the hot sun sweating and all I could think about was the sweet music filling the air from Ben's slide guitar. As I closed my eyes I thought what it would have been like to see Jimi hendrix. Thank you and the band for you were my favorite performance at the Jazz Festival and that should say enough.
Ben started the set with "Excuse me mister," pulling in the audience's devotion to his ministry. Yes, we were all hoping for "Burn one down," and he kept us on our toes, but only b/c everyone packed in tight to, as a guy who squeezed in next to me said, "I had to get some Ben Harper." Ben swapped all of his beauties around, but flashed a new guitar (to my eyes anyway)that nearly matched the artwork on his arms, which was a pretty cool presentation. After this show, anyone who was slow to buy the new album will definitely get their asses movin...he played really great songs from the record, including tracks 1,3,6,11 & probably more. From his old stuff, he played "The woman in you," "Steal My kisses," and finally, he ended the show with an awesome extended version of "Burn One Down." (festival-goers left very happy.) One other highlight of the show was when Ben got behind Leon & gave him some booty-lovin'...:) Leon never skipped a beat. Oh, and of course Juan didn't have ANY trouble standing downstage a while...what fingers!!! ;P Anyway, the show was phenomenal, the only drawback being the time limit, but I went to Jazz Fest for one show: Ben Harper. I think his show WAS "the show" of the festivities. All of you who didn't make it...well, that's what ya get!