The music of pop/folkie Dan Fogelberg belongs next to a raging midwinter fire in the Colorado mountains, not beneath a humid, early summer sky in the Midwest.
But a receptive crowd welcomed Fogelberg -- Hawaiian shirt and all -- to Starlight Theatre on Tuesday night for a retrospective of the singer-songwriter's three decades in the pop music spotlight.
Fogelberg's lyrics are sometimes weepy, and his melodies can be predictable and overproduced. But at its best, the performer's music touches some universal chords about family ties, self-knowledge and personal acceptance.
The opening segment of Fogelberg's three-part set focused on faithfully reproduced versions of his top-40 hits, including such tunes as "Hard to Say," "Heart Hotels" and "Run for the Roses." The singer alternated between acoustic guitar and piano, backed by a four-piece band of guitars, synthesizer and drums.
The highlight of the opening section was a beautifully rendered interpretation of "The Reach" from "The Innocent Age" album. The song paints vivid word pictures of the autumnal splendor along the coast of Maine, and of the lessons learned from the eternal ebb and flow of those majestic waters.
Fogelberg took center stage for a solo acoustic segment that included solid versions of "Make Love Stay," "Old Tennessee" and "Leader of the Band," the performer's lovingly composed tribute to the legacy of music passed from father to son.
His solo segment also included some unstructured noodling on the guitar, including licks from such eclectic sources as Jefferson Airplane's "Embryonic Journey" and Orleans' "Dance With Me."
"I guess we can't do `Stump the Band' all night," Fogelberg joked. "I'm just amusing myself at this point."
The solo set concluded with "Same Old Lang Syne," a semisyrupy tune about an unexpected encounter with a lost love and the bittersweet memories it stirred. The concert version benefited from Fogelberg's bluesy, improvisational vocal flights and from some extemporaneous piano passages that brought a sense of genuine yearning to the tried-and-true ballad.
The show's final segment included some free-form contributions from Fogelberg's backup musicians, all of whom are veteran members of other pop and rock bands. The kitchen-sink set included everything from Firefall's "Strange Way to Tell Me You Love Me" to "Rocky Mountain Way" (co-written by Joe Walsh and Fogelberg drummer Joe Vitale), with a bit of Muddy Waters thrown in for good measure.
Fogelberg returned to more familiar territory with "Part of the Plan," his first top-40 hit from the 1974 "Souvenirs" album. The musically inventive, know-thyself anthem was a fitting finale to a polished, satisfying show.
• Reviewed: June 25 at Starlight Theatre
• Attendance: 4,000 (approx.)
(A Special Thanks To Kingston Springs Kevin For Sending this in!!!)