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Familiar Tunes Drive Woods’ Tiger Jam I

Any pro golfer can hit the ball straight down the fairway, steer around the hazards and cautiously putt to the cup--while finishing well behind the leaders. What makes a Tiger Woods, other than his obviously abundant skills, is the courage to really challenge the course.

But in Tiger Jam I at the Universal Amphitheatre on Monday--the Woods-hosted benefit concert for his efforts for inner-city children and families--no one really tried to sail one over the water. Though the lineup itself offered a little stretch, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds’ brief set of modern R&B-pop; sandwiched between the Eagles’ classic rock and Hootie & the Blowfish’s classic-styled rock, each act stuck largely with familiar favorites.

Of course, that’s just what the audience, which included sports heroes John Elway and Kobe Bryant, was looking for--to no surprise from the artists. As event emcee Glenn Frey quoted fellow Eagle Joe Walsh during their joint set together before the whole band’s final portion, “If we’d known we were going to be doing these songs for the rest of our lives, we would have written other ones.”

Still, there were plenty of opportunities for the band to reach beyond such must-plays as “Hotel California,” “Life in the Fast Lane” and “Take It Easy.” Why not do something unique for this evening, something that the fans didn’t hear on the reunion tours?

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Hootie (returning the favor after Woods played in the band’s charity golf tournament) took the most chances, debuting three songs from a new album currently being recorded in L.A. and tossing in a spirited version of Stephen Stills’ “Love the One You’re With.” Babyface, accompanied by a large band, turned “Change the World,” his hit collaboration with Eric Clapton, into an almost Earth, Wind & Fire-like funk workout, and closed with a slinky new version of Bruce Springsteen’s “Fire.”

So the evening was never less than entertaining--with a bonus of Jay Leno doing 15 minutes of stand-up during a set change. But if Woods always played it safe and settled for par on the links, he’d disappoint his fans. When these musicians did just that, they got cheered.


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