Photos and review: Mavis Staples and Robert Cray Band in Salt Lake City

First Published      Last Updated Jun 21 2014 03:31 pm

Grammy-winning The Robert Cray Band and soul/gospel legend Mavis Staples co-headlined a packed show Friday night at Red Butte Garden in Salt Lake City.


The 74-year-old Mavis walked out with an arm to steady her as she waved her cane toward the crowd.

Opening song • She pulled out a Staples Singers classic in "If You're Ready (Come Go With Me)."

Highlight • The band's rendition of the Talking Heads' "Slippery People" had lots of people dancing, and it was done well.

Crowd favorite • For her 14th and final song Mavis pulled out "I'll Take You There," which had more than half the crowd on its feet and dancing.

Best quote • "It's always good to see ya'll! … Utah City, Utah!" Her geographical slip got a lot of good-natured laughs. Her guitar player Rick Holmstrom took her aside for a little clarification, to which she covered her mouth before approaching the mic to yell, "Salt Lake City!" a few times, taking it all in stride.

In the crowd • Harmonica player/band leader Harry Lee, Fox 13's Scott McKane, Kerri Cronk and a posse of family and friends, Utah Jazz great Mark Eaton and KRCL on-air host Eugenie Hero Jaffe.

Encore • After 14 songs, there was no need for an encore. Mavis and her trio of fantastic backup singers did take a break during two instrumentals.

Low note • The only low notes were the ones Mavis digs down deep to sing in her signature raspy voice — and that's a good thing.

Next up • The Robert Cray Band went second in the double-billing.


The band walked out and started playing over recorded music as they were introduced, which came off as a little strange as few people seemed to notice their arrival.

Opening song • From the 1986 "Bad Influence" album the band started with "Phone Booth," followed by "Poor Johnny" and "Right Next Door (Because of Me)" from the Grammy-winning "Strong Persuader" album.

Highlight • Generally speaking it was watching Robert Cray feel the music as his face contorted while cutting loose often throughout the band's set.

Crowd favorite • It was either "Chicken in the Kitchen," "The Forecast (Calls for Pain)" or "(Won't Be) Coming Home" — hard to peg that one down.

Best quote • The place was a bit breezy, which prompted Cray to quip, "This is the first time my hair has ever blown in the wind." Earlier he said, "Thanks for the invitation — we always show up."

In the crowd • A lot of loyal fans.

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