Seeing Traffic perform from the front row at Queens College's Colden Auditorium in the early '70s was an awesome experience for me. A little while later, the band was altered somewhat, with the substitution of David Hood on bass and Roger Hawkins on drums, but as this DVD shows very well, Traffic remained quite the hot-shite ensemble nonetheless. Filmed at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in 1972, this concert seems to kick off with a somewhat spacy, mildly exploratory version of the title tune of the band's then-current LP, "The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys"; Steve Winwood and Chris Wood get to stretch out nicely on this one, on piano and electric sax, respectively. "Light Up or Leave Me Alone" comes next, on which former drummer Jim Capaldi gets to do his white Sammy Davis, Jr. thing while Stevie offers up some wicked guitar licks. (Until his recent collaborations with Eric Clapton, many seemed to have forgotten what a fantastic guitarist he's always been!) A straightforward yet tasty as can be rendition of "John Barleycorn" follows, featuring some terrific work by Chris on flute; "Rainmaker" makes for a perfect segueway after this one, highlighted by more lovely flute work from Chris and a rousing percussion interlude from Reebop Kwakubaah. The classic Traffic diptych of "Glad"/"Freedom Rider" comes next, accompanied by some psychedelic light FX, and then Stevie sings effortlessly and beautifully on "40,000 Headmen." (Notice how calm his eyes seem, despite the fact that he is singing in front of thousands of people. What a cool dude!) "Dear Mr. Fantasy" closes out this set in rousing fashion, featuring some more staggering guitar work from Winwood. (Is it any wonder that we rated him one of THE guitar champs back when?) All in all, a wonderful, nostalgic set. My only beef: Why not give posterity the entire show here, instead of just 64 minutes?
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