Right on time, John Popper comes up on stage. He is joined by Ben Wilson on piano. To start off the night, they play “The Mountains Win Again”. “And it looks like rain, I feel it coming in.” Even though it was released in 1994, it still sounds fresh. Popper’s harmonica skills are on full display and everyone has a good view at the Blue Night Hawaii, a very intimate and comfortable jazz club.
After this first song, he begins to describe what he wrote the next song about. But he quickly stops himself. It doesn’t matter what he was writing about, he says. What matters is how you interpret it. “If you think I’m giving up on you, you’re crazy. If you think I don’t love you, then you are just wrong” he sings on “Just Wait”. It’s a beautiful song and it sounds fantastic tonight. Popper’s voice is so powerful, especially on this trick.
To close out the set, John sings “It doesn’t matter what I say, as long as I sing with inflection.” It’s the start of “Hook”, and everyone shows a smile on their face. The harmonica solo on this track is legendary. Also, the fast paced singing is quite the feat.
When they return for an encore, some random guy comes up on stage with a ukulele and asks to play with the band. Popper is very friendly and he allows him to stay. The piano player tells him the chords for the next song, G C Am D. The guy says he doesn’t know how the song goes. So, John says you have 40 seconds to play your heart out. The guy goes ahead and starts to play “Hook” again. Popper joins him on harmonica. After the guy finishes the first verse, he just starts the verse over again. Finally, Popper pulls the mic away and the guy leaves the stage to end this strange encounter.
At last, they close out the night with “Run-Around”. “Like a game show contestant with a parting gift, I could not believe my eyes.” It was an excellent finish to a fantastic night of music!
Catch John Popper at Blue Night Hawaii through January 6th!