Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals in Miami 10/3
On All Hallows Eve, with a tropical storm gusting past the city of Miami, Ben Harper strode out with his Innocent Criminals to a standing ovation from the capacity crowd. Greeted with loud applause and cheers of "Hurricane Harper" he stepped focused and determined to the mike and cracked into a loud and compelling "More Than A Sorry".
They couldn't have picked a finer venue for this intimate show, with the Gusman Center representing a classic cinema motif reminiscent of the 1950's standard. As I walked through and examined and thoroughly enjoyed the ornate decorations, I, on this most haunting of evenings (along with 40 mph winds swirling by each crack and crevice), felt as if I was in a living and breathing being, which only added to the ambiance for the show.
Prior to Harper taking to the stage, Donovan Frankenreiter played through a quiet and peaceful acoustic set with little amplification or mixing, just man and guitar, which was quite different from his last LP.
Ben kept the old standards at home in his closet and busted out more fancy and less worn duds for the evening. There was no "Burn One Down", "Steal My Kisses", or "Better Way", included in his set. Instead they pulled out rather moving renditions of some other classics you would have missed at his Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, and Voodoo Fest sets.
Some of the highlights included a seven-minute "Church House Steps" originally performed by Ben and the Blind Boys of Alabama, which brought about new meaning to a "religious experience". He also surprised the audience with an amazing version of "Use Me" by Bill Withers ("Ain't No Sunshine", "Just the Two of Use", etc.)
Though their set was heavy with multiple selections from his new album, the pure raw emotion and angst emitted from Ben forced each concertgoer out of their seats sometimes without even recognition until the music had ceased. You do walk away from his shows believing that he had sung he song specifically for you. Known more for his determined fixation on his musical prose, than his amicable crowd interaction, he did crack once and melted most girls (and some guys) hearts on the spot, when he smiled after a cheer of "Happy Halloween". His response, "yeah, thank you", was the most we got all night, and no one could be happier.
The show finished off with Ben sitting down to his specially made Hawaiian guitar and quietly strummed through "Paris Sunrise #7" and "Lifeline" before having the whole band join him for the final part of the show. The crowd stood under the pale blue stage lights as the band melodically marched through "Like a King" and Maya Angelou's poem "I'll Rise". With one hand raise in unity on their final note, the band and crowd left the Gusman better than they came.
More Than Sorry
Two Hands Of A Prayer
Excuse Me Mr.
In The Colors
Gold To Me
Heart Of Matters
Younger Than Today
Fight Outta You
Church House Steps
Needed You Tonight
Put It On Me
Where Could I Go
Paris Sunrise #7 >
By My Side
Like A King / I'll Rise
Well, well, welll... I went from Portugal to Miami just to see you guys! It was incredible...thank you for the wonderful show and for the incredible night in Miami! Meeting Ben was the cherry on the top of the cake!!!
Keep on with the good work, hope to see you in Portugal soon, very soon!
this was one the best concerts i've been to and i've been to over 300.You are one of the most talented men on the planet .I also loved the show at lollapalooza i've listened to it almost once a day since the show.I hope to see you guys again soon.
Sometimes it's worth the effort to do 6000 miles just to go to a concert. And that was the time!
Great night of music, and great location.
Ben never dissapoints. I saw him at Voodoo Fest, at Birmingham and finally at Miami. That makes at least 10 shows for me. I finally got to meet him in Miami. He is the example of the stellar musician. He never has dissapointed me at any show and none of these were an exception. I will forever love Ben!!!
I've been a fan for quite a while now and last nights show had a very different feel from the rest of the shows I've been to.
Though not a a knock, they only played 5 I knew, and one was not even Ben's (use me). That being said, this was probably the first really cool concert Ive ever been to where i had the oppertunity to sit and just enjoy the music (the crowd was totally chilled out). I got to hear a lot of the new album and though its a little different, the suits are kinda cool. A different look for them, but that s change for you. good show all in all.
I was a Ben Harper virgin, so I have no other shows to compare it to, but I thought it was amazing. My only complaint is Ben rarely opened his eyes and looked at the audience - the few times he did, it took the performance to an even higher energy level through that connection. See the world around you Ben and feed off it!
Ben & the IC
Thank you for last night. It was a great show. While some maybe disappointed with the and setlist, I and my family were not. We drank and danced to a fury of magic and sound. It wa my 1st experience with you guys live and it will not be the last. Thank you and the guys for hanging out with us afterward.
Ronnie "Hootchie Cootchie Man" Ruiz
We were in the presence of Grace yesterday October 31st. Ben's soul and the Innocent Criminals' musicianship radiated throughout the room. It was an amazing exprience even though the vibe from the crowd was a bit loose and funky. Props to Donovan Frankenreiter as the opening act! Thank you Ben and IC for a magical show. Peace.
Can't wait for the fox show tomorrow, is it me, or are the set lists very similiar for each show? looks like his encore is the same. Best show ever was his at the tabernacle,atl, last year...hope he keeps up the energy!!!
Great Halloween Show. The new album comes through great live. Great setlist mix from the Lifeline album and some classics.
I got lucky after the show!
I have seen Ben 3 times (Vote 4 Change Tour, 2001 Gainesville), and now last night in Miami. He always puts on a tremendous show filled with passion and even angst. I'm not trying to get in his head, but the vibe of the audience based on all of us dancing in the front was amazing.
People might have been disapointed b/c they didn't play "Walk Away" , "Burn One Down" , "Sexual Healing", or any other staple you expect to hear, but that just made the show so much better. Just a stellar finish with Like A King/I'll Rise.
I have to agree, the show was nothing short of a religous expeience! The band was tight and Ben was on the top of his game. He seemed inspired and truely moved by the energy and the love pouring from the crowd. I have also seen many BH shows and NONE were better than last night. Ben is a true talent with his voice(WOW!)and his shredding guitar. In short, the show was AMAZING!!!!
This last guy must have smoked some bad crack last night. I've been seeing Ben Harper since about 1997 or so & last night was the best show of his that I've ever seen. The only thing I didn't like was the people screaming during the quiet parts. Even though the band mostly played more mellow songs they still found opportunities to jam on Whipping Boy, Like A King & a few others. They were tighter than ever & dipped into some of the older songs that I never expected to see live again like Two Hands of a Prayer. The entire show was awesome & from where I was sitting it looked like the entire band was enjoying it as much as I was.
Ok. So first off, it's incredible enough that Ben Harper actually played a show in Miami. But at the Gusman? On Halloween Night? During a low-grade tropical storm? Yup. Now, I've been to some BH shows in the past (I'm travelling up to ATL to see them on Friday), and while I do think this was a much, much, much, much fcking much better than average show, I was not thoroughly impressed or amazed by the entire performance, like I have been in the past. Particularly because this felt more like a production, with a stage full of talented but disinterested musicians, and a passionate but equally distracted leader/musical genius. I don't know why, but to me it seemed like Ben's mind was elsewhere during most (85) of the show. Or at least that's what I took away. Please dont get me wrong, the show had its shining moments, which were directly correlated to Ben tearing up the slide guittar. (I recorded a 7minute, slide nasty version of 'Whipping Boy' on my camera, the battery held in there till the very last minute. Sweet.) But the rest of the show was a few steps beyond mediocre, in my opinion. This became apparent when some songs from the classic "Fight for Your Mind" sounded stale at best. This is a classic album, and these songs command and deserve better treatment than they received tonight, especially 'Gold to Me." Unless you are in a somewhat pleasant mood, you should not play this song to a crowd of people. It looks forced. I must intervene here, and say that I hope you do not think that I am talking bad about the band, cause I'm not. And I place Ben Harper's vocal, songwriting, and instrumental ability up there with the best ever. But, as such an avid fan, I was disappointed by the quality and cohesiveness of the setlist. And as for the performance, I felt a little cheated by the effort that was presented tonight. Just a little, like 1 out of 100 of me feels cheated. This said, there was no where else in the world I would have rather have been tonight then at the Gusman, on Halloween, during a low-grade tropical storm, with Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals. Thanks for the memories. See you Friday night. PS - please play God Fearing Man and/or Power of the Gospel in ATL (keeping with the 'southern church house' theme). And to the beautiful Australian girl behind me, who put up with my crazy wig and zebra tights, will I ever hear from you again? Hope you're not gone forever.