Last night, the Robert Cray Band kicked-off their 2023 slate of touring with an appearance at The Canyon Club in Agoura Hills, California. The venerable quartet performed a 100-minute set dotted with classics from Cray’s nearly 50-year career as a multiple Grammy-winning architect of modern blues. The Canyon show also marked the first of seven dates in the Western U.S. – six in the Golden State, including a two night stand at Oakland’s famed Yoshi’s.

“It’s freezing,” Cray remarked after his “Anything You Want” show-starter, and indeed it was; Southern California temps on this Friday in January dipped into the low 30°s. Appropriately, the blues master followed with “I Shiver,” part of his 15-song evening for the packed-in, most-seated faithful. There was Cray’s adopted nugget, “Sittin On Top of The World,” that came early in the night, garnering the first of several standing ovations. And some relationship advice on “I Don’t Care,” after which Cray admitted, “I don’t think you should take everything I say seriously.”

The midpoint highlight came on a pairing of “You Had My Heart,” and his neo-classic “Bad Influence,” the title track from his 1983 album. Cray offered a tribute to Booker T. and the M.G.’s on “Hip Tight Onions, and catered to his longtime bassist, Richard Cousins, and his affinity for Tom Jones on “You Move Me,” with choreographed dance steps, buttressed by Dover “White Cliffs” Weinberg on keyboards and Les Falconer on drums. Then, it was the familiar strains of Cray’s certified hit, “Right Next Door (Because of Me),” that answered the crowd’s numerous shouted requests and served as the set’s penultimate showcase before a closing “You Must Believe In Yourself.”

A two-song encore of “Phone Booth” and “Time Takes Two” concluded the evening to one more standing-ovation for the quartet. After the Western leg wraps, the Robert Cray Band heads east for a series of shows throughout February, March, and April. A full tour schedule may be found at robertcray.com.

A full tour schedule can be found here.