Thursday, August 26, 2010

Stevie Ray Vaughan: The Final Performance

Sunday, August 26, 1990 – Stevie Ray Vaughan walks on stage at the Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy, Wisconsin before a sold-out crowd of 30,000.

It would be his final show.
SRV had been on the road in support of “In Step,” since the album’s release in the spring of ’89. The original series of dates ran through October of ’89; SRV then did two months of shows on “The Fire Meets The Fury” tour with Jeff Beck, followed by an MTV Unplugged show recorded at the end of January ’90 with fellow axeman Joe Satriani.

The “In Step” tour resumed with more dates in May, and then SRV hooked up on a two-month, co-headlining tour with Joe Cocker, which started in June.

I saw the SRV/Cocker double-bill at the Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, Ontario on July 10, and it was truly an awesome evening full of music by both legends. Copps was my second live SRV experience (the first was five years earlier at Toronto’s Varsity Arena, when he opened for Dire Straits), and Stevie was on fire like never before.

On Friday, August 24, SRV played the Kalamazoo County Fair in Michigan, before joining Eric Clapton for two shows over the weekend at Alpine Valley. Sharing the Alpine bills with Clapton and SRV were The Robert Cray Band featuring The Memphis Horns.
On the 26th - following Cray’s opening set - Stevie and Double Trouble members Tommy Shannon (bass), Chris Layton (drums) and Reese Wynans on keyboards, took to the stage. The set started off in high gear with “Collins’ Shuffle” (an Albert Collins cover).

Collins Stevie Ray Vaughan - Collins Shuffle (Live At Montreux 1982) - Live At Montreux 1982 & 1985

From “The House Is Rockin’,” onward, SRV played a remarkable show. Late in the set, big brother Jimmie joined him for a rocking version of Freddie King’s “Goin’ Down.” The final song that Stevie would play with Double Trouble was Jimi Hendrix's classic, “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return).”

Voodoo Stevie Ray Vaughan - Voodoo Child (Slight Return) - Couldn't Stand the Weather

By all accounts, it was Stevie’s night, with his energy, presence, and skillful playing filling the Wisconsin night. “Stevie just smoked,” said brother Jimmie in an interview with Guitar World. “It was one of those gigs where you see someone play, and you can’t believe what you’re hearing. Stevie was unreal. He was just on another plane, and we all knew it.”

“It was one of the most incredible sets I ever heard Stevie play," said Buddy Guy. “I had goose bumps."

“Those shows were just great fun, really exciting,” said bassist Tommy Shannon. “They were sort of the culmination of all the good times we’d been having for the last year or two. And as good as we had been playing, those two shows were just unreal.”

Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble
Alpine Valley Music Theatre - East Troy, Wisconsin – August 26, 1990

01. Collins' Shuffle (Albert Collins cover)
02. The House Is Rockin'
03. Tightrope
04. The Things (That) I Used to Do (Guitar Slim cover)
05. Let Me Love You Baby (Willie Dixon cover)
06. Leave My Girl Alone (Buddy Guy cover)
07. Pride And Joy
08. Wall Of Denial
09. Riviera Paradise
10. Superstition (Stevie Wonder cover)
11. Couldn't Stand the Weather
12. Goin' Down (with guest Jimmie Vaughan) (Freddie King cover)
13. Crossfire Play Video
14. Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) (Jimi Hendrix cover)

Clapton was up next, playing in support of the “Journeyman” record. Eric started with “Pretending,” and closed with “Sunshine Of Your Love.”

For his final encore, Clapton introduced his guests:

“I’d like to bring out, to join me – in truth – the best guitar players in the entire world: Buddy Guy…Stevie Ray Vaughan…Robert Cray…Jimmie Vaughan.”

Tomorrow: a personal remembrance of the late, great Stevie Ray Vaughan.