It has been nearly 50 years since Steve Winwood burst onto the music scene as a member of the Spencer Davis Group in 1965. In that time the 16-year old British kid who could sing and play keyboards like Ray Charles has evolved musically through stints with Traffic, Blind Faith and his own very successful solo career.

On Friday (May 11) he began a brief U.S. tour at the Riverside Theater in Milwaukee. Opening with ‘I’m A Man,’ a Top 10 hit for the Spencer Davis Group in 1967, Winwood touched upon all phases of his career, with a heavy emphasis on extended solos. The ten-song main set contained four songs from his most recent effort, 2008′s ‘Nine Lives,’ with three beloved Traffic numbers (‘Light Up Or Leave Me Alone’ and a medley of ‘The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys’ and ‘Empty Pages’) and one from Blind Faith (‘Can’t Find My Way Home,’ which was No. 94 on our countdown of the Top 100 Classic Rock Songs).

Unfortunately, Winwood chose to avoid many of his excellent 1980s hits like ‘While You See A Chance’ and ‘Back in the High Life.’ Only ‘Higher Love,’ which closed out the set, made the cut. For the two-song encore, Winwood went back to another Traffic classic, ‘Dear Mr. Fantasy,’ and brought the night full circle with another Spencer Davis Group smash, ‘Gimme Some Lovin’.’

It’s a shame Winwood doesn’t seem to tour very often these days. He remains a great singer, keyboard player and guitarist. So if he’s coming to your town on this tour, be sure to check him out.

Steve Winwood 2012 Tour Dates

5/14 — St. Louis, Mo.
5/15 — Chicago, Ill.
5/16 — Detroit, Mich.
5/18 — Nashville, Tenn.
5/19 — Atlanta, Ga.
5/20 — Gulf Shores, Ala.
5/22 — Portsmouth, Va.
5/23 — New York, N.Y.
5/25 — Atlantic City, N.J.
5/26 — Westbury, N.Y.
5/27 — Red Bank, N.J.
5/29 — Vienna, Va.
5/30 — Philadelphia, Pa.
6/1 — Canandaigua, N.Y.
6/2 — Boston, Mass.
6/3 — Hunter, N.Y.

Watch Steve Winwood Play ‘Dear Mr. Fantasy’ at the 2007 Crossroads Guitar Festival