Dan Fogelberg Solo Acoustic Tour

The Murat Theater,Indianapolis, IN

June 24, 1997

By Ralph Hunt Sidway

Often a concert that claims to be "An Evening With ..." is simply "An Evening in Proximity to ..." That was certainly not the case when Dan Fogelberg performed for a sellout crowd of 2,700 at The Murat Theater in Indy on June 24th. As warm and appreciative of his audience as they were of him, he made it a point early on to thank them for their support over the past twenty-five years, and then proceeded to take them on a musical tour highlighting his skills as songwriter, musician, singer and showman.

Fogelberg began with "Nexus," the panoramic, metaphysical meditation on life, death and the beyond that opens The Innocent Age . Fingerpicking his twelve-string acoustic, Dan coaxed sparkling, ringing notes underscored by sweeping, majestic chords, and hushed the crowd with a bridge of dancing harmonics. Theatrics behind him, he alternated between simpler, early songs (from the "Mesozoic" Era, as he jokingly referred to it), such as "Crow" and "The Last Nail" from Captured Angel, and more intricate numbers this reviewer was surprised to hear performed solo. "Hard To Say" was especially effective; stripped of its layered production and instrumentation, the acoustic setting allowed the beauty of the songwriting to come through.

Dan Fogelberg. Photo by Ralph Sidway

Switching to a grand piano raised on a low platform midway stage-left, Dan tantalized the audience with a familiar sounding intro, before seguing into the opening notes from the lead track to his first album, Home Free. "To The Morning" was lofty and diligently hopeful, and although the youthful whispery falsetto is gone, and he had to stretch to hit the high notes, the passionate delivery revealed a darker, more bluesy Fogelberg voice.

Relaxed and unfazed by a malfunctioning monitor, Fogelberg teased the Indianapolis crowd about the Colts, prompting several fans (of the Colts, that is!) to exchange one liners with him. When one particularly vocal fellow shouted one taunt too many, Fogelberg held his guitar out and quipped, "You wanna do this?" much to the amusement of the rest of the audience. Easing back into the show, he then performed a series of old and new numbers, highlighted by the blues song "Nature Of The Game" (unreleased), "Fire And Ice" (another new one, inspired by Thomas More's book Soul Mates), and "Don't Lose Heart," the anthemic inspirational single off his new boxed CD set Portrait: The Music of Dan Fogelberg, 1972-1997.

Mixed in with classics such as "The Reach" and "Make Love Stay" were a couple of Dan's favorites from the '60's: Tim Hardin's "If I Were A Carpenter" (performed in an intricate fingerpicking arrangement using an alternate tuning), and George Harrison's " I Need You" from the Beatles' album Help!, played on a high-strung guitar (where only the high strings from a 12-string guitar are used on a six-string). The effect was unbelievably bright and ethereal, with Fogelberg revealing how he had used the technique on several albums to brighten the high end through overdubbing guitar parts.

Rather than have an intermission, Dan rested his voice during a set of gorgeous classical instrumentals: the new, untitled "Santa Fe" (he said it, not me), "Todos Santos" from his recent collaboration with Tim Weisberg No Resemblance Whatsoever, and the familiar "Manana de Carnival," from the movie Black Orpheus (with a verse of "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music thrown in, eliciting a giggle from the audience).

Returning to the piano, Fogelberg brought the house down with the ever popular "Run For The Roses." Even the overly obvious slide projected horses on the huge screen behind him couldn't detract from this song, with its turn of phrase, "It's the chance of a lifetime, in a lifetime of chance." Picking up the guitar for "Morning Sky" from Souvenirs, Dan closed with two more of his greatest hits, "Leader Of The Band," and "Part Of The Plan," the latter finishing the show much as it had begun, with an aural tour de force on the 12-string, bringing the crowd to their feet in the process. For an encore, Fogelberg performed his soulful rendering of "Same Old Lang Syne," to which we were treated here at the Palace only three years ago. Slowly into the chorus, warmly growling the melancholy "We drank a toast to innocence ...," Dan has adapted his delivery to suit his huskier voice, making this bittersweet tale even more poignant.

Both this tour, and the boxed CD set Portrait are conceived as a gift to Dan Fans, a summing up of a songwriter's career that has spanned 25 years, spawned seven platinum albums and two gold, yielded a dozen top 40 hits, half of which were top 10, and which continues to produce thoughtful, beautiful and relevant music, albeit at a slower pace than twenty years ago. Although Indy was the closest stop for Louisville fans, there are still upcoming dates in Atlanta and Florida on what may be the last extensive tour for this troubadour of the heart.