JJ Cale Lee's Palace, Toronto ON - June 27, 2004

Touring behind his first studio release in eight years — the tantalising To Tulsa And Back — low key poster boy J.J. Cale took to the stage and got himself comfy, setting up with little notice from the packed room – largely due to the fact that he looks more like a roadie than anybody special. In fact, he appeared to approach the room looking like he'd really rather be back in his Airstream than fronting a crowded venue full of overheated fans. Yet Cale quickly tuned up, accompanied himself on guitar for two numbers, and slowly introduced his tour-mates with the made-to-order "Mama Don't Allow." As Cale ran through note-perfect renditions of new material alongside old, his cranky-seeming demeanour softened with the realisation that the room hung on his every note and word. The fact that Clapton's sold out show at the ACC was built upon the back of this quiet little man seemed somehow ironic, yet Cale would be the last one to care. It's all about the music and the faithful were treated to a bucketful. Cale's white country blues chugged along like cold molasses built upon its trademarked-simple, rhythmic shuffle, Cale's gruff and grizzled vocals and the economical placement of each sting from his Telecaster. We couldn't ask for anything more from this well-oiled unit although a generous encore added warmth to what was already a reunion of old friends gathered around something so simple, yet so seductive and satisfying.