The Roxy Theater
November 4th, 1992
Cramming into the neo-deco glitz of the Roxy, the aging glamsters and Allman Brothers fans who'd come to see Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood were die-hards for whom "It's Only Rock & Roll" remains a lifestyle. Chuck Berry-derived rock & roll, that is. Bounding onstage after a neat set by Continuum label mates the Immaculate Fools, Wood was all smiles, his trademark affability contrasting with the giant silhouetted, myth-making image of himself that hung behind the drum kit – the cover shot of his assured fifth solo album, Slide on This. Slamming into a fourteen-song evening that alternated the spare funk of his new record with Stones hits and gems by the Faces (the group that brought Wood and fellow rooster top Rod Stewart to fame), Ronnie basked in the spotlight.
Freed from his usual role as sideman, Wood commanded an ace six-man band, its luminaries including Bonnie Raitt guitarist Johnny Lee Schell plus Georgia homeboy Chuck Leavell and ex-Face Ian McLagan on keyboards. Taking star turns on "Stay With Me" and "Flying," Steel Wheels backup vocalist and former PIL and Tackhead collaborator Bernard Fowler also did much at the microphone to boost Wood's soulful wreck of a voice.
But with Wood, as with his Rolling Stones big brother Keith Richards, guitar is the thing. And on '55 Strat, mirror-faced black Gibson or Fender lap steel, Wood rocked mightily. Slide guitar his specialty, he played with a fervor belying his forty-five years, and his solos, honed by years of playing in the shadow of such giants as Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton, were thankfully free of grandstanding.
Except for the lovely "Breathe on Me," Wood's own compositions lacked the inventiveness of the Jagger-Richards or Faces numbers, but this show, like the good-time tradition Wood embodies, was less about songs than about sheer groove. And with his crew of veterans alongside him, he proved that classic rocking – of the kind that inspired such bands as the Black Crowes and the Georgia Satellites – need hardly be consigned to the relic heap. Delivered live, as it was always intended, the old blues-based magic came across as remarkably fresh.
This story is from the January 7th, 1993 issue of Rolling Stone.
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