The ‘90s have been very good to Steve Miller. The veteran rocker has seen several of his classic songs revived by such esteemed artists as k.d. lang (who has “The Joker” on her new album), while the Spin Doctors and other young bands adapted his easygoing blues-pop style. Most important, a surprisingly youthful legion of rabid fans has made Miller one of the decade’s top touring acts. His concerts are the most overgrown frat-party blowouts this side of Jimmy Buffett’s.
It was that kind of scene at Miller’s Greek Theatre show on Wednesday--and that was the problem. Miller’s fans are so easy to please that he can do so without reaching, which is exactly what he did. He knows that all the fans want to hear are the old hits, so why give ‘em anything else?
More than half of the two-hour show came from his biggest albums, 1976’s “Fly Like an Eagle” (“Take the Money and Run,” “Rock ‘N Me,” the title track) and 1977’s “Book of Dreams” (“Jet Airliner,” “Jungle Love,” “Swingtown”). He didn’t even play a single track from his lone ‘90s album, 1993’s “Wide River,” and the only “new” selection was Paul McCartney’s “Young Boy,” which Miller collaborated on for the ex-Beatle’s “Flaming Pie” album.
Miller and band (which includes his longtime partner, harmonicat Norton Buffalo) delivered all this with style and good-time grace, but the only depth came in Miller’s fluid, economical lead guitar playing. Otherwise, 30 years after emerging from Summer of Love San Francisco, he demands the asking of not what the ‘90s have done for him, but what has he done for the ‘90s.
* The Steve Miller Band and Eric Johnson play tonight at Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre, 8800 Irvine Center Drive, Irvine, 8 p.m. $15-$30. (714) 855-4515.