1986-12-28 (2nd show), NYC, Lone Star Cafe, Mick Taylor show review by GimmeMTguy
Put It Where You Want It
Despite the coming excitement of a Keith Richards guest appearance, these two jazz fusion tunes are played with restraint and it's only during Put It Where You Want It that the band begins to let it cook a bit. The bridge portion of the song, which sounds a lot like Under My Thumb, takes on a special irony perhaps tonight.
MT's introduction "we're gonna play some Blues now" also takes on some special resonance given who is waiting in the wings. Mick plays a beautiful but controlled solo, which interestingly doesn't get a lot of response from the packed, frothing crowd, waiting for the likely reunion to come. Everyone seems to be keeping their powder dry, except Jon Young who takes the spotlight with his vocal.
The reliable showcase from MT's 1979 solo album comes next, perhaps as a message (or perhaps not) to his former bandmate. It took a while, but the Mick Taylor album did arrive as his first post-Stones statement.
By now, the patterns is clear. There will be no emotional peak coming in this particular rendition, which meanders but does not build in its customary manner.
Compared to the first show, which expressed veritable excitement as KR and crew entered the Lone Star, this version holds its fire.
Key to the Highway (+KR)
Mick Taylor announces his "very special guest" and that lurching Keith rhythm begins Key to the Highway. His vocal growl is unmistakably Keith, "I've got a key" and we're witnessing the first reunion since Kansas City 1981 and on a much more intimate stage space.
The guitarists fall right into their natural relationship, big bro Keith's angular and chopping rhythm, and little bro Taylor's soaring, sardonic lead phrasing, the first measures setting up the theme, and the later knocking it down.
Remaining a good host, MT turns it back to Keith singing the second verse, and then Keith immediately takes a lead, mixing between chords and descending single note runs, as unpretty and Delta bluesy as Taylor's are gorgeous, to great effect.
After another verse, Mick Taylor plays a solo for the ages on this Blues standard. One minute of single notes and interspersed slide climaxing several times with a shimmering, pulsating and nearly taunting high slide note. The power and command flowing easily like fast moving water. After a couple of turns, MT almost goes for another round, but seems to recall the situation and cuts himself off abruptly in favor of turning the end of the song back to his guest Keith.
Case closed, no need to grandstand.
The crowd goes wild and Keith is persuaded to do another tune, the normal MT show closer Can't You Hear Me Knocking, which of course is a natural for this reunion.
Can't You Hear Me Knocking (+KR)
The great Keith part of this song is his introduction, but the Taylor live version never attempts to mimic the brilliant staccato of Keith's original. Keith is not prepared to do his studio role, so MT plays his standard dumbed-down CYHMK rhythm intro, and Keith is limited to landing some chords in between the spaces.
This includes after Jon Young finishes the vocal portion, with MT carrying the primary rhythm, and Keith adding some rhythm accents. In all honesty, it's not much different from a normal MT version, until Keith gets the hang and starts in with his trademark Berry runs around five minutes in.
Once MT starts with his classic solo, KR picks up with his studio version rhythm and it's finally, for a few moments, the CYHMK from Sticky Fingers.
After band intros, interlaced with some more prominent chordal Keith, MT introduces Keith, and at around 12 minutes in, Keith does another Berry-esque solo and takes his leave to an ovation.
The watery phaser-type effect on Keith's guitar does it no favors, but you've heard the only version of Can't You Hear Me Knocking with Richards and Taylor until twenty-five years later with The Rolling Stones' 50 and Counting tour beginning in 2012.
And it was a lot of fun to be there.