Long Beach, Arena, 23 Jan 1973

25 Jan 1973
Los Angeles Times
Richard Cromelin
Rock Review
Traffic Carries On at Long Beach Arena

Although the delicacy that so beautifully counterbalances the hard edges of its music was totally lost in the Long Beach Arena sound system, and while the hall's cavernous expanse destroyed all sense of intimacy, Traffic's Tuesday night concert was yet another demonstration of the group's incomparable musical brilliance.

With the spirited carrying-on of Anthony Kwaku Baah and the reeling intensity of Chris Wood providing the visual element, the reconstituted band showed that a 'serious' approach to music isn't necessarily antithetical to entertainment, and that extended instrumental excursions can be something other than boring filler.

Steve Winwood is, of course, one of the most inspired musicians ever spawned by rock 'n' roll, and his ethereal vocals and work on piano and guitar were uniformly stunning. Wood's saxophone solos were less satisfying, but the rest of the group proved themselves as worthy successors to the Traffic tradition of excellence.

Some admirers of the old Traffic have expressed dissatisfaction with the group's more recent music, but no disparity in quality was in evidence Tuesday between something like 40,000 Headmen and the new material, particularly the thoroughly haunting Roll Right Stones.

Traffic's distinctive sound and rich, enigmatic imagery stand as one of contemporary rock's most magical musics, and there are few who could conceivably remain untouched by the constant flow of low sparks from the high-heeled boys.

Second billed Free's monumental struggle with the sound system was a rather tedious and painful affair, but even so, its music and presentation, with the single exception of All Right Now, were disappointingly colorless and uninspiring.

John Martyn did what any folk singer in his right mind would do when plopped down in the Long Beach Arena and departed after one number.

This review gives a good impression of a stadium tour concert, though John was much more successful on other dates. It was printed in the Los Angeles Times of Thursday 25 January 1973.