IOWA CITY - Bluesman Keb’ Mo’ thrilled a capacity crowd at the Englert Theatre Sunday night with a two-hour set that was both playful and impeccable. He performed twenty songs, each a gem, featuring catchy melodies and wry lyrics delivered in his warm, gently textured voice. He’s an excellent guitarist who avoided pyrotechnics in favor of appealing, perfect solos. The man’s charisma and musicianship are a potent combination. He was supported by two outstanding musicians. Drummer Casey Wasner was solid all evening on a stripped down kit that included only a snare and a bass drum and a hi-hat and a ride cymbal. He could lay back and support the music quietly, but he could also drive a song forward with a heavy beat. Never a distraction, Wasner always provided just what a song needed. For his part, multi-instrumentalist Tom Shinness wowed the crowd as he shifted among mandolin, harp-guitar—an unusual hybrid instrument that Shinness joked is useful when the bass player doesn’t show up—electric bass, and cello throughout the show. Shinness was a delight all evening, most especially on the tunes during which he held his cello like a guitar and developed rich, fleet-fingered solos. Two of the evening’s highlights were new songs from Mo’s forthcoming album. The first was a tune with an infectious melody but a biting theme concerning shifting economic realities in America. Featuring the line, “It was a high price to pay to get more for your money today,” the song emphasized Mo’s ability to craft songs that spotlight real issues while maintaining a rueful rather than an angry tone. The second new song was “The Old Me Better,” a jazzy number that seems to poke fun at another of his well-known songs, “A Better Man.” The chorus of new tune sighs, “You turned me into a better man, but I like the old me better.” After performing “The Old Me Better,” Mo’ and his mates turned up the volume, ending the set with four rockers, including “A Better Man.” The party rolled on with the first two encores, including “She Just Wants to Dance,” which inspired a good portion of the crowd to do just that. He wrapped things up with two lovely ballads—“City Boy” and “Henry”—the latter of which Mo’ said probably wouldn’t make a very good closer, but he felt like playing it anyway. It was, in fact, a simply beautiful way to end an evening of wonderful music. More info: The Englert Theatre honors Black History Month with a series of performances by award-winning musicians. Three-time Grammy Award-winning blues artist, Keb’ Mo’, kicked off the series last night (Feb 9). The Englert will host two more performances next week: Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the beloved South African a capella group, will perform on February 18, and roots/blues icons Eric Bibb and Ruthie Foster, will perform together on February 19.