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Published: 2016/03/07
by Heather Farr

G. Love and Special Sauce, House of Blues, Chicago, IL- 2/25

Staring up at G. Love and Special Sauce, positioned in front of florescent, paint-splattered bubble letters reminiscent of street art, it’s easy to image the trio perched on a stoop or posted up in an alley in the group’s hometown of Philadelphia. Nearing the end of the first leg of the Love Saves the Day tour in a city known for the blues and a House named after it, the funky trio brought a performance that would make the City of Brotherly Love proud, reintroducing Chicago once again to the group’s unique genre of hip-hop blues.

Looking somehow both relaxed and bursting with energy at the same time and ever-so-slightly disheveled, Garret “G. Love” Dutton took his usual seat in front of the crowd and behind his trusty harmonica/guitar combo as the band launched into nearly an hour dedicated to the group’s newest album Love Saves the Day. Long limbs bouncing and eyes wild, G. Love and his band started with “Dis Song,” a gritty, blues-inspired don’t-let-the-door-hit-you-on-the-way-out proclamation to a no good ex-lover.

The steady, harmonica drenched “Bad Girl Baby Blues” – from 2014’s Sugar – was the only track that managed to slip into the exclusive lineup of new tracks. From the new album, standouts included the full-bodied and sassy “Baby Why You Do Me Like That?” which features DJ Logic on the recorded track, and “Let’s Have a Good Time,” a rhythmic party anthem that features the eclectic Ozomatli in the studio version. Both songs were brought to life with the help of the horns section from funky and fun opening band Ripe, and the latter brought out Ripe’s afro-donning ring leader.

While G. Love rounds out the new album with a little help from his friends, he and the rest of the group – drummer Jeffrey Clemens and bassist Jim Prescott – pulled through on songs like the energetic play on Lead Belly’s “New York City,” which features Lucinda Williams on the record, and the sexy, piano-drenched acoustic blues tune “Muse,” that features the smooth vocals of Citizen Cope on Love Saves the Day.

“Why isn’t G playing something I know?” G. Love said of his first set as he returned for the second, which he indicated would be comprised exclusively of songs requested by the crowd. For anyone unacquainted with the new tunes, the second set more than made up for the unfamiliar territory, mixing G. Love favorites from the past decade and beyond. Taking on the first half of the second set solo, G. Love led with his harmonica on the upbeat “Sunshine” from his 2004 solo album, The Hustle.

He dedicated the slower “When We Meet Again” from the band’s third studio album to a couple that just got engaged, bringing the minds of the fans who attended the same show last year back to the proposal that happened on stage amidst “Baby’s Got Sauce.” Still solo, G. Love brought his dramatic and foot stomping interpretation of Bob Dylan’s “Fixin’ to Die,” which appears on his 2011 solo album of the same name. Crowd favorites included a loose, semi-freestyle version of “Booty Call” and always-popular “Cold Beverage,” which seemed to get the crowd really moving for the first time the entire night.

Continuing on his mission to play nothing but the hits during his second set, G. Love – backed by his full band – took on a slightly more upbeat version of Jack Johnson’s “Rodeo Clowns,” a 2003 tune on which G. Love appears. Unsurprisingly, the crowd also responded well – and loudly – to “Who’s Got The Weed?” as well as the to the light-hearted call-and-repeat “Milk and Cereal.” The crowd had just gotten settled down during the smooth and easy “Ain’t That Livin’” when G. Love and Special Sauce offered up an energetic homage to the late David Bowie with a rocking “Suffragette City.” With a mischievous grin and a glistening forehead, G. Love sent the crowd on their way, hopefully with a few new favorite G. Love tunes to add to their list.

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