Material: Xavier Miller and his band are infused with today’s modern pop feel while slightly exploring the punk era and bottling it all up in a progressive format. Ballads like “Little Darling” take hold of you with lyrics that hit home and don’t want to let go, lyrics that grab you and talk to you about a young love lost and the heartbreak that remains when all is over. “Any Road” is a bluesy, country-ish tune that has you tapping your foot and shakin’ it for the entire song. Although most of the songs stay on the progressive side of things, Miller pulled out a song called “Love Ain’t Nothin’,” redolent of a Beatles tune, that crosses the commercial line––intentionally or unintentionally, we may never know. “One Life To Lose” has a very likable melody and was the most commercial song of the bunch, so if you want to taste what Miller has, this song would be it.
Musicianship: The musicianship is good. Miller is extremely animated and fun to watch on stage, but that took away from the musicianship in a couple of songs where the guitar solo went on and on and seemed like there wasn’t enough to fill the song, but the cameras were rolling and the show went on. Without a bass player, Lukens (a well versed, experienced keyboard player) pulled double duty as keys and bassist, never missing a beat and smoothly incorporating a bass line into each song. Having played with Roy Buchanan (among other greats) on his recordings and tours, Lukens kept the low end a neat ‘n tidy canvas for Miller to draw on. Baker is no slouch either, having played with Janis Joplin at Woodstock, Frank Zappa and most notably Jimi Hendrix. He struggled a little bit on breaks and endings to the songs, but was otherwise a perfect time keeper.
Performance: Miller was fun to watch at this gig. He was animated and hyper on stage and you could tell right away whose show it was as he gave direction and cues to the other band members on breaks and endings. Lukens and Baker are mere props as far as the visuals are concerned—they were there to play music, and play great they did as it sounded like they’ve been performing together for years.
Summary: Xavier Miller’s rock band is reminiscent of the progressive rock movement of the ‘60s and ‘70s, liking them to great bands such as Yes, ELP, Gentle Giant and possibly touching on King Crimson. Miller has been around for a bit and knows it takes more than just good music to make it. His act encapsulates many genres and melts them together to make the songs flow smoothly, but in a progressive format. Baker and Lukens are great accompaniment for Miller as he stood tall in front of a good audience that cheered him on after every song.