The over capacity crowd in the ballroom was hot and loud when an aural montage of Streetheart hits began filling the sound system, pushing the energy levels up further. Smart phone cameras came out with ready fingers, waiting to capture an image of the ever-so-engaging Mr. Shields. When he entered, dressed in black with a large smile beaming across his face, he didn’t lose a beat before the band swayed into “Here Comes The Night” and set the mood for the evening.
Suave and dignified, Shields’ voice gathered more power as the band shifted gears with “Hollywood” and then moved into “Miss Plaza Suite” where the band’s playing was tight, concise, and precise. With original Streetheart member Daryl Gutheil on keys and longtime member Jeff Neill on guitar, the lineup was completed by Tim Sutton on drums and Jake Jacobs on bass, though the real star this night was Shields.
Whether crooning, belting, or screaming Shields maintained connection to the audience, laughing, gesturing, and always looking into the faces of the people near the stage. During instrumental sections of the songs he danced and spun and often looked like he wanted to leap with excitement, but given the low ceiling over the stage obviously thought better of that maneuver.
Deerfoot Casino; Calgary, September 29th 2012
Photography by: Charles Hope
The songs kept coming with “Tin Soldier” and “Black is Black” drawing huge applause and fueling Shields to gyrate with even more enthusiasm. Out of breath after this song pair and pausing to catch it, a woman screamed, “I love you” to which Shields replied with a dramatic pause and slightly ironic tone, “I love you too, but I can’t see you.” By this time the smart phones disappeared and the audience settled to let the music to wash over them. While dancing and singing off-key they beamed smiles back to the band and screamed for more.
The interplay between the band members was clearly evident and each seemed more than willing to allow the others to shine. Neill was the second star of the night as he spun his guitar solos into small works of art and lost himself in the music only to be held to the ground by the solid playing of the rest of the band.
Midway through the show Shields told the crowd that it was “important to communicate to the best of our abilities”, a self-evident statement considering that what they had been doing over the course of the evening. And when he asked the crowd to sing along with the songs they knew, he urged them to dig deep into themselves and “don’t worry about tomorrow just sing it today,” to which many did.
Ending with a driving pairing of “Under My Thumb” and “Snow White” that brought the crowd to its feet, the band left the stage briefly to return with an emotional cover of another Stones song: “Angie”. Shields drew more emotion from this single song than most singers could do in an entire evening. And if that wasn’t enough, they pushed on through to “Action” and ended the night with “Can’t You Feel It” to wild applause.
Shields acknowledged in conversation before the show that he might be coming to the end of the performing road, but his sheer energy on stage and Streetheart’s musical enthusiasm contradicts that statement; he appears to have ample reserves of energy still waiting to be tapped if the audiences are there to urge him on.