We just spent two hours experiencing the musical stylings of Bruce Hornsby. I have not followed Hornsby throughout his career. I know he’s an excellent pianist, songwriter (for himself and others – such as Bonnie Raitt & Don Henley). When I go to a concert, I HOPE to hear some semblance of the artist’s well-known music. It’s terrific to hear new or different pieces or a variation of a song, but Hornsby took his 1988 hit “Valley Road” and transformed it into a completely different song. Hornsby, at 58, said on stage tonight that as he gets older his musical tastes are getting stranger. He’s an artist – and I get that. It would have been wonderful to see him perform Valley Road and the few other songs he included in the set that made him well-known – in some form that many in the audience would have recognized.
The solo concert at Collingswood’s Scottish Rite Theatre was a perfect venue for Hornsby’s music. The acoustics in the 1930s building do wonders for a beautiful grand piano. Though Hornsby’s voice does not have the range (no pun intended) as it did years ago – he stretched to reach his high notes – his workmanship on the piano was quite good.
Hornsby did an amazing version Bonnie Raitt’s signature song “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” his interpretation and arrangement of the song was spot on. He even started with Bonnie Raitt’s key – and then lowered it for his voice. Nicely done.
Hornsby clearly wants his audience to move on to what he is doing now – scoring Spike Lee films and working on a musical called “Sick Bastard.” When you have a hit like ‘Valley Road” and “The Way It Is,” long-time fans deserve to hear a version they remember and can enjoy when they pay to see the artist in concert.