Madacy 2004 / Purple Pyramid 2022
Also known as “Keeping The Legend Alive” and doing just that, a document of country-rock royalty’s very special show where founding members got together one more time.
By May 20, 2004, when this concert took place at Nashville’s “Belcourt Theatre” which saw their followers pilgrimaging to Tennessee from all over America, long gone were the period when POCO used to be perceived as a rustic cousins of EAGLES, because even the veterans of such purity had embraced tinsel as a means to stay on top of their game for decades on end. Capturing the collective still riding high in the current millennium, that evening’s setlist presented here runs across most of their classic records but adds contemporary sonics to the familiar fare, so the old gems feel as fresh as new and allow Paul Cotton, Rusty Young and George Grantham enhance the halcyon days with latter-day memories.
It’s very fitting, then, that the show is spurned into action with a previously unissued, yet crystal-clear in its magic nostalgia, short ballad “Where Did The Time Go” before switching to the group’s perennial statement of intent “Keep On Tryin'” where lush vocal harmonies are heartwarming, and dusting off other fan favorites, from hits like the effervescent, Young-sung “Crazy Love” to lesser gems of the Cotton-voiced “Indian Summer” kind. But while, closer to finale, Paul and Rusty – both of whom passed away in 2021 – would share the lead on “Rose Of Cimmaron” which displays the band’s ability to sound profound, their aficionados unsurprisingly have more fun once the seemingly homespun “Pickin’ Up The Pieces” and “Kind Woman” come delivered, on the one-off terms, by the ensemble’s founder Richie Furay. However, though “You Better Think Twice” brings a light twang back home, to country, there’s a glitterball hung over the hoedown for “Call It Love” and “Heart Of The Night” that features Phil Kenzie’s sax to a great effect.
Yet if the tenderly rocking “Let’s Dance Tonight” and reservedly triumphant “Ride The Country” are as down-to-earth as one can imagine, the strings of Rusty’s pedal steel caress the soulful “Magnolia” until Paul’s guitar licks soar for a solo, and the spirituality of the entire instrumental line-up takes the soft epic “Spellbound” off the ground. The result is truly exhilarating, and hearing the old heroes spread their gospel again is truly uplifting.