Jonny Lang and Norfolk Are Made for Each Other

Jonny Lang at the NorVA
October 04, 2016
Norfolk, VA
Writer/Photographer: Mark Robbins

The sign of a great show is when the lights go up after the encores, the stage is empty but the crowd doesn’t move hoping the band is coming back. This was the scene Tuesday night at the NorVA after Jonny Lang and his band left the stage.


The NorVA has long been one of the premier music venues on the east coast and in 2013 was selected by the fans in a Rolling Stone poll as the number 1 “venue that rocks” in the country. Over the years the NorVA has transformed from a vaudeville theater to a movie theater than a brief stint as a health club. In 2000 it opened as a bare bones rock palace with no seats, a VIP balcony, two bars and a favorite for traveling musicians because of its backstage basketball court, sauna, hot tub, laundry service and one of the most crystal-clear sound systems heard anywhere.


Jonny Lang put that sound system to good use Tuesday night with his spectacular voice and killer guitar. Walking out on the stage with no introduction he and his 4 piece band tore right into, “Blew Up” from his new CD Fight For My Soul. “Blew Up” brought to mind the funkiness of Parliament and Sly and the Family Stone. Lang’s voice sounds older than his 32 years and has just enough weariness to make you believe every word he sings. His guitar chops are just as impressive, especially on the newly recorded, “Breakin’ In” and “We Are the Same”.


Singing material from all his albums Lang could not be pigeon holes into one genre. Jumping from blues to R&B to James Brown funk the singer/guitarist was at home in any style he chose. The standout of the evening was, “Lie to Me”, which was sung with such heartache that many of his fans were dabbing at their tear stained eyes. First released on his album Lie to Me in 1997, the song had a more upbeat feel to it maybe that’s how a then 16-year-old Jonny Lang heard it. Now, at 32, he presents the song as if his heart has been torn out. So was everybody else’s!


Blew Up
Red Light
Great Day
We R Same
40 Days
Lie To Me