Overlapping with Wilco’s set was the other headliner of the evening, retro-rocker Lenny Kravitz. A large crowd came out for the singer-guitarist, clad in his typical outfit of denim jacket and aviator glasses.
Initially, it seemed that Lenny’s band would be a modest four-person affair, but each new song seemed to bring another musician or two onstage. So the trio of female vocalists who remained offstage for the stomping opener “Are You Gonna Go My Way” were soon swinging their hips to the danceable “Stop Dragging Around”.
As might be expected, Lenny performed “American Woman”, the hit version of the Guess Who classic, he recorded for the Austin Powers 2 soundtrack. But the song could easily double as the theme for his band, given its strong female component. In addition to the backing vocalists, Lenny was also accompanied by his longtime bassist Gail Ann Dorsey, and returning drummer Cindy Blackman-Santana, who first played in his band in 1993.
The band also included a horn section consisting of a trumpet and two sax players. All three got a good workout during the lengthy jam for “Always on The Run”, which also featured an electric-piano solo performed by frizzy-haired guitarist Craig Ross.
The set-list was a mix of old and new. Hits such as “It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over” and “I Belong To You” got their due. But so did the acoustic-guitar ballad “She’s a Beast” and the rocker “Dirty White Boots”, both from his latest release, 2014’s Strut. The set ended with the psychedelic ballad “Let Love Rule” that was the title track for his first album. During its instrumental, Lenny talked about how relevant the song is to what has been going on in the world lately, without mentioning any specific situation. For the encore, he performed another big hit, “Fly Away”, which ended the first day of Sunfest on a funky note.