Remembering SRV at Cobo 1989
Ken Settle is a Detroit Concert Photographer. He is also a historian. Ken’s ability to tell a story, in detail or some of Detroit’s most iconic shows and moments is a gift to our community. The following is a post that Ken made in honor of the day that Stevie Ray Vaughan was born: October 3rd, 1954. The story details a moment in time from the Jeff Beck and SRV at Cobo Hall in 1989. Ken, thank you so much for sharing your moments in Detroit’s concert history.
Ken Settle Tells His Story of SRV at Cobo
Probably one of my strongest images, in my opinion, is this Stevie Ray Vaughan shot from Cobo Arena in Detroit in 1989.
Stevie had recently gotten sober for good. There was talk in certain circles about whether or not Stevie’s sobriety would negatively affect his playing. Dim the flame, so to speak. Stevie was very vocal in interviews about how much better his playing had become since his sobriety. It seemed on this night, opening for Jeff Beck, he was out to prove it.
Every song that evening was sharp, tight, and intense. Stevie’s vocals were more soulful than ever before and he was hitting high notes with more confidence than I had ever heard from him. There are those rare moments in the photo pit in front of the stage. Moments where you are stuck in the glorious middle between the magic that the artist is laying down, and the intense love and joy that the audience is feeding back to the stage. The REAL rare night is when you can catch the artist responding to that wave from the audience. You FEEL the audience at your back respond and you are physically moved by it.
That Moment in “Crossfire”
Stevie had just nailed the solo in the outro in “Crossfire.” He had just hit THAT NOTE. You know. That point in the song where he bends it up about a step and a half, and then bends it ANOTHER step! I could literally hear and feel the audience behind me roar at that incredible crescendo. Stevie’s eyes were closed, but I could see the satisfaction and joy on his face. It was like he had been transported to another plane. He slid his hand down the neck grabbed a fistful of notes, and bent the whole thing up a step…his picking hand, as if it had a mind of its own, flailing behind him! I am really proud of catching that moment.
This was back in the film days and I was using flash to fill in the shadows beneath Stevie’s hat (Stevie did not mind). It took about a second and a half for the flash to recycle and be ready for another shot, so there was no doing a burst of frames to catch the moment. I had to literally release the shutter at exactly that right time. The audience cued me to when this was going to happen… I felt it. It made it possible for me to get this shot. I hope that you can feel some of that magic when you this photo.
— Ken, thank you! I felt like I was in that moment. Scroll down to check out more of Ken’s photos from our Detroit concert history.