It was a beautiful evening at the Red Butte Garden Amphitheater as hundreds set out all manner of chairs and blankets in preparation to see Steve Miller Band perform. The largely middle-aged crowd came ready to have a good time. Coolers full of cheeses and wine littered the lawn as the friendly, upbeat crowd settled into their places awaiting the show. The informal nature of seating at the amphitheater fostered an overwhelming sense of community among the attendees, many of whom killed time before the concert by chatting with strangers and offering up food and drink to one another.
The opening act started at 7:30. While not necessarily holding the prestige or star power of the headliner, Daniel Young Buehner got the crowd warmed up and feeling good. While still a member of the local group the Hollering Pines, Buehner played solo, accompanied only by his guitar and harmonica. His set included largely folk and bluegrass tunes that felt like a nice warm-up for the more traditional rock set that would follow. Buehner even played a jailhouse rock song of his own writing, though he humorously prefaced it by clarifying, “A lot of my songs are fiction. I’ve been writing a lot of jailhouse songs lately. I’ve never been to prison. Never planning on going to prison. It’s fiction.” A short intermission followed Buehner before Steve Miller Band took the stage.
The entire crowd was brought to its feet as the headliner walked out playing “Jungle Love” and it stayed standing for the majority of the show. It’s hard to overstate just how ubiquitous Steve Miller Band’s music is. Their setlist full of hits had the faces of even the youngest in the crowd lighting up with recognition. From classic rock staples to a small stretch of acoustic songs — performed solo by Steve Miller — to psychedelic keyboard solos, what the band may lack in bombastic stage presence, they more than make up for in variety.
While the band has shifted around Steve Miller many times over the years, the current line-up played each song to perfection and Miller is as pitch-perfect as he ever was. Throughout the show, Miller shared a bit of his history with the crowd, including when he started his first band at age twelve with his friends and brother. They called themselves the Marksmen (after the school they all attended at the time, St. Marks) and they booked performances two nights a week for up to a year in advance. The reason for their success being that “in 1955 there just weren’t many rock bands around,” according to Miller.
After playing a set full of the hits that make Steve Miller Band such an icon in the classic rock community, the band left the stage only to be summoned back out for a two-song encore. The show closed out with the whole band playing the full electric version of the song “Jet Airliner” (Miller had performed an acoustic version of the same song earlier in the set). Having satisfied the crowd, the band gathered front and center for final bows before thanking the crowd and leaving the stage. As the crowd filtered out through the exits, people were still grinning and hips were still shaking, concrete evidence of the place the Steve Miller Band holds in rock and roll history and their continuing relevance today.

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