Blues Traveler may not jam as much as it used to, but these guys still know how to put on a pretty good show.
The five-piece band fronted by vocalist and harmonica virtuoso John Popper stopped at the Keystone Grand Ballroom at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Saturday, opening with “Hurricane,” a tune recorded with 3OH!3 from BT’s latest album “Blow Up the Moon.”
The group then segued into “Things Are Looking Up” from 2012’s “Suzy Cracks the Whip” and then into a fun version of Sublime’s “What I Got,” which Blues Traveler first tackled for its album “25,” also from 2012.
Whether playing its hits, a cover or a song that is barely a month old, Blues Traveler makes everything sound uniquely its own probably because the core of the band – Popper, guitarist Chan Kinchla and drummer Brendan Hill – have been playing together for more than 25 years, while the “new” members (keyboardist Ben Wilson and bassist Tad Kinchla) have been on board since 1999.
Somewhat surprisingly, the band did perhaps its most famous song, 1994’s “Run-Around,” very early in the set, causing quite a few in the audience to crowd around the stage to dance and sing along. The somewhat rushed, three-minute version of the Grammy-award winning song was over before some even made it to the stage, so they stayed there for the remainder of the show.
“This is our last gig before we have like a week off, you know how that is. But we’re not in a hurry or anything,” Popper said to a few chuckles.
Up next was “Castaway,” a reggae number recorded with The Dirty Heads and Rome Ramirez from the new album. BT dug into its catalog for “NY Prophesie” from 1993’s “Save His Soul,” and Wilson busted out the keytar for 2008’s “The Beacons.”
A long harmonica solo turned into “But Anyway,” a popular track from the band’s 1990 self-titled debut; then Popper did his most effective singing of the evening on “Can’t Win True Love” accompanied solely by Wilson on the electric piano.
Guitarist Chan Kinchla shone brightly on “Carolina Blues” from 1997’s “Straight On till Morning,” and then a brief drum solo led into “Hook,” the band’s second Top 40 hit from 1994’s “four” album (following “Run-Around”), closing out the main set.
“You guys are f— awesome, you really are,” Popper said as the band returned to the stage for its encore. “You guys want to hear one more?”
The band went back to “Blow Up the Moon” once more for “Top of the World,” a tune written
and recorded with Hanson. “The weird part is they’re all adults now,” Popper said as a few guys in the crowd could be heard singing “MMMBop.”
As Blues Traveler brought its 90-minute performance to a close, Popper exclaimed, “Cheers to you guys and God bless Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania!”