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SHATTERED FAITH NET

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THE FORWARD BY YVONNE PERRY

The thought processes of some people don‘t always allow for the possibility that the round peg may fit the square hole if the square hole is big enough.

Round peg, square hole? That’s me! My eyes perked up when I read that comment by Nick Oliva, and I knew I was going to enjoy reading the rest of this book.
Nick. Me. Neither of us fit the expected mold and both of us have little use for the practices and dogmatic beliefs imposed upon society by organized religions. All my life, I have butted heads with people who find it difficult to relate with me because I have an alternate viewpoint due to the mystical experiences I’ve had.

Nick chose to remove himself from the abuse of controlling religious leaders. I was “removed” from religion in one fell swoop when the universe (spirit, my soul, God, higher self, or whatever you want to call it) booted me out of the church, its teachings, my marriage, my sense of security, and the belief system that I had tenaciously clung to for forty years. I took what was left of my paranormal ass and went to the corner of my pigeon hole to reevaluate what was working in my life and what wasn’t. There was a lot of garbage to sort through as I examined each piece of black-robed ideology and researched modern Christianity back to its roots.

Nick nailed it when he wrote, “I‘m trying to get people to understand that they are responsible for their actions, not―the Lord.” That’s what I’ve been trying to help people understand for the past ten years. When my life fell apart, I soon discovered that it was up to me—not God, the church, or anyone else—to put it back together. What a difference that discovery has made for me. But, try explaining that to folks who have a rigid indoctrinated view of how life and death should operate.

As one who has had two near-death experiences (NDE) and lived to write a book about them, I was very interested to read what Nick had to say about his own near death experience, which occurred when his heart stopped beating for fourteen seconds as he was literally trying to take a shit. You laughed, I heard you! And, you’ll laugh at the wit, logic, and satire Nick Oliva uses to battle the philosophies of the Atheists and Christians who harshly responded to his posts in an online forum. You may also feel angry when you read the chapter titled “The Real Story of the Christian Bible, or that Black Book You’re Holding Isn’t What You Think It Is.” Seventeen hundred years has made a big difference in the “sacred” text!

I can understand Nick’s hesitancy to write about his near-death experience. Maybe that is why he left it for the last course—like a sweet dessert for this meat-heavy meal.

Death is not something most people want to talk about and yet it is something every one of us will ultimately have to face. I’ve never met any Near Death Experiencer who doesn’t tell me that their experience changed his or her life.

The author’s account of his other-world experience gives us encouragement that our fears about what lies beyond the grave are merely preconceived notions passed from one generation to the next. Those, who like Nick and myself, that have experienced an NDE, may find a metaphysical view of life and death more in line with the laws that are written in their hearts rather than on tablets of stone or in the New Times Roman, black leather, gold-leafed, silky-pages of the King James Version.

I’m glad to have found a friend who is brave enough to write his story and approach the fallacies of religion. I hope this book will open some eyes that have been nailed shut like the coffin they avoid peering into. I know of nothing that is deader than someone who will not allow room to question his or her beliefs. As Nick writes, “To not acknowledge the fact that one could be wrong is to show the greatest ignorance to life itself.” Yet, when it comes to discussing anything spiritual that does involve Jesus Christ, Christianity, or religion, Nick’s reason and logic will probably hit a brick wall—especially when presented to fundamentalists who want to legislate their staunch morals through political leaders.

You may think that I hate those who fill the church pews on Sunday or preach the “not-so-good-news.” I mean, what’s so good about being told that you’re a sinner bound for hell and that you must believe a certain way to avoid damnation? I don’t hate anyone, but I do hate the behavior of some. Like Nick, I can accept anyone who treats others with love and respect. As long as he or she doesn’t try to convert me to his or her way of thinking, it really doesn‘t matter to me what he or she believes or does—as long as he or she does no harm to anyone else in the process.

“If we all could keep our fear, greed, and pride at bay we could accomplish great things in the course of human history.”…Just imagine how the world would change if we took Nick’s words to heart and started practicing them.

Shattered Faith: To Believe or Not To Believe truly is a gift to humanity. If only we would heed the advice this book contains. I invite you to put down your weapon (fear), stop hating those you don‘t understand, and prepare to be tolerant as you delve into this gift.

Yvonne Perry

Author of RIGHT TO RECOVER: Winning the Political and Religious Wars Over Stem Cell Research in America and MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE: True Stories About Death, Dying, and Afterlife

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CHEAPTRICKPEPPERS

Cheap Trick performing the Beatles??? Has the world gone mad? Well, only a little. One must realize that Cheap Trick, formed in 1974, built quite a fan base through its own brand of using power-rock chords that emoted a hard-edge but retained enough melodic themes that attracted those on the outer currents of pop rock and punk rock. Their music does combines the tune- worthy formulaic modes of The Beatles but with an energy that speeds up without bowling over into pure ranting and screaming of those in the punk rock genre of that time. The Los Angeles Times has remarked that “Cheap Trick gained fame by twisting the Beatlesque into something shinier, harder, more American.” Your next question is: What were their biggest hits? A few include the songs “Surrender”, “I Want You to Want Me”, and “Dream Police.”

So it was with ardent curiosity when the available ticket brought me to the Hilton Theater, my favorite venue to see them perform Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band. Having seen Paul McCartney in sold-out arenas four times and never hearing anything as elaborate as a 21 piece orchestra, 6 backup vocalists, a children’s choir, mixed with an old rock bank that I’d thought had hit the old folks home by now, I couldn’t imagine how this escapade could be pulled off credibly. Featured guest artists included Grammy-Award winning vocalist Joan Osborne, Rob Laufer, Bill Lloyd, and Ian Ball all of whom performed in the beginning of the show before Cheap Trick entered the stage through a very clever revolving set that housed the entire orchestra 16 feet up in the air and provided three circular stages underneath them to facilitate the quick turnover to the Sgt. Pepper’s portion. As the curtain rose that set was exposed.

The orchestra opened with an absolutely beautiful symphonic medley of “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “She Loves You,” “Love Me Do,” and “Please, Please Me.” Ms. Osborne then took the stage and deftly sang “Can’t Buy Me Love,” and the timeless “Long and Winding Road.” The orchestra then took over and performed the classic “Eleanor Rigby.” Let me stop here a moment to comment that in the nineties I lived in Puerto Rico and had the chance to see the Puerto Rican Symphony Orchestra perform Holst’s incredible symphony “The Planets.” That alone was a rare treat unto itself. The most marvelous thing of this show was to watch these players moving and thrusting their bodies into such soulful unpretentious mesmerizations of being one with the vibrations that they perfectly emitted from their instruments, that they naturally drew you into their magical mojo as an unintentional byproduct of their emotionalism and love of their craft exactly as those moments I experienced many years ago.

The engineer’s use of effects to recreate Lennon’s experiment of running his voice through a Leslie speaker for “Across the Universe” with the Las Vegas Children’s Choir was as ethereal as the original. It was truly like “a wind inside a letter box.”

And then the transition occurred and here was Cheap Trick with Rick Nielsen and his baseball cap and striped suit prancing, dancing, and irreverently swinging his guitar to the beginning of that classic album. The album that the Beach Boy’s leader Brian Wilson called the “perfect album,” the same one that he tried to compose first and gave up his quest after hearing what he perceived as the Beatles’- no the world’s – ultimate recording.

I then realized that when I read Geoff Emerick’s name on the roster as Sound Direction and Co-Producer that it all made sense. Those orchestra parts were exactly as George Martin, “the fifth Beatle” had written them in 1967. Every nuance, speck, part and parcel of each tiny inflection of this live sound mimicked that album without exception. And by the way, Mr. Emerick was the engineer for Sgt. Pepper’s back in 1967 so there was the connection to the “how” of this event.

The bonus tracks of “Golden Slumbers,” “Carry That Weight,” “The End” and the show “encore,” “All You Need is Love,” brings the Beatles’ genius and the energy and vivaciousness of the current band playing their hearts out into focus after experiencing the beginnings of their musical careers at the top of the show. It was a wise choice than to end with just the Sgt. Pepper’s songs, as the orchestra was already there for that monumental epic, why not go out with a huge bang from their later material? Good call on the producer’s part although I wish someone had sung “Something” that perfect ode to George’s wife Patti Boyd, instead of Bill Lloyd playing lead guitar on the melody, but that is a minor complaint.

And lest I forget a huge part of this ensemble was Magic Christian, the keyboardist who provided all of McCartney’s piano parts and used his synthesizers perfectly to authenticate each track. Todd Youth on bass enthusiastically played every Mac line note-for-note and the conductor affectionately introduced as “Billy Shears” did an outstanding job putting the orchestra though it’s amazing paces this fine evening.

The most amazing part of the show came when George Harrison’s “Within You, Without You” was performed. An authentic Indian ensemble appeared with Gingger Shankar (Her mother was a classical singer, and her father, L. Subramaniam, is a world renowned violinist) playing the double violin, with two sitar players, and bass and treble Tampura instruments exactly capturing this spiritual encompassment of Mr. Harrison’s experience with the music and religious aura of that nation.

The vocals of Rob Laufer were magically suited to every note of the past and this was more than just a band rehashing an old classic. The entire experience, as exacting as it was, evoked new emotional thrills by the live performances of both a rock band and orchestra blending into a dimension of past time that never was. This was a “what if” had the Beatles kept touring and attempted such an endeavor to achieve such lushness of a tracked album by being backed by a full orchestra and vocalists. It was the concert that never was performed by the seemingly most unlikely band using the most unlikely Beatles album. It worked magnificently!

I ran into people who had seen it more than once and honestly I would have gone back for seconds and thirds myself. I mean when the song Sgt. Pepper’s Reprise kicks in that rooster crowing for that split second, the madness of the orchestra of “Day in the Life” swells and then crescendos to its ultimate conclusion, and then that infamous orchestral down stroke to the tonic note, what more does one want out of a concert? It is real and it is hair-raising. I could go on and on about every small detail and the attentiveness paid to each and every one of them, but my suggestion is if you can go see it-GO! This tour will not last forever, like the original band, like any ephemeral burst of pure creativity, the moment passes quickly. Take the time and listen to what could have been, but was only preserved on tape and disc until now. It’s no cheap trick believe me.

Ticket from the Atlantic City Pop Festival August 1969

The following is a comment I received on my blog of the Atlantic City Pop Festival’s 40th Anniversary. Please read it and pass it on to whomever you can, and maybe, just maybe ‘Sev’ will get to look at the pictures that he had taken 40 years ago. It is occurrences like this that make writing this blog all worthwhile. I hope by some small chance we could make this Vietnam Veteran’s wish come true. (Note: I did clean up the letter’s punctuation and language a little bit to make it clearer) Sev writes: I remember this festival well…. I went AWOL from Ft Dix for the three days and I didn’t care because I was getting ready to be shipped to Vietnam. I arrived while Chicago (Transit Authority) was playing and they were so good that I thought they were playing a record to warm people up but it was them live!! I pitched myself a tent and went wandering around. During my stay, I kept walking backstage and no one stopped me (it was a different world back then). My highlights were meeting Janis, Grace Slick, Tracy Nelson, & Frank Zappa. When I met Janis I handed her a button that said “Kiss me I’m Italian” she said, “You’re Italian? I Like Italians.” Her guitarist behind her laughed and said “ahhhh you like everybody.” She laughed and kissed me on the head, under my eye, on my cheek and near my mouth. It is something I will never forget as long as I live!! Frank Zappa was so nice, he looked at me and then my army haircut and said, “Hey you look like me when I was a kid.” I took so many pictures but unfortunately I took them with me to Nam and the day I got there someone broke into my locker and ripped me off… I swear I am telling the truth… : ( If someone is reading this and knows of someone that has them or does remember having them PLEASE post them and send them to me. I would really like to have them back … They were of Me & Janis, Me & Grace, Me & Frank, & a few of other stars including Grace & Janis together. Thanks for reading

Pasquale Severino

Trenton, New jersey

IF ANYONE OUT THERE CAN HELP.. SEND ‘SEV’ HIS PICTURES TO THE FOLLOWING EMAIL ADDRESS             MysteryLyricfest@aol.com

JeffersonStarshipSpitfire

A while back, I went to my favorite concert venue, The Las Vegas Hilton, to see the “new” lineup of Starship, AKA Jefferson Starship, and the third generation of Jefferson Airplane.  The Hilton showroom is a wonderful place to see a show as there isn’t a bad seat in the house and the big comfy chairs are a far cry from the seats that barely hold one cheek of your derriere in any other venue, and allow plenty of leg room as well. 

The old Jefferson Airplane in this day and age would probably have been locked up in this Patriot Act paranoia of today.  ‘Got to Revolution’ just wouldn’t go over like the old days…….for shame as the internet and keyboards have taken over from in-body protests and are far less effective……..but I digress.  The addition of Las Vegas’ own Stephanie Calvert (http://stephcalvert.com/) allows the introduction of the more tame Airplane treasure trove of White Rabbit, Somebody to Love, and others that haven’t been heard by myself since I saw them in Santa Cruz at Lorenzi Park in 1994 with Jack Cassady, Craig Chaquico, and other original band members and a young woman that looked a lot like Grace Slick, but wasn’t.  That was also the last time I heard “Hearts” a song that I didn’t hear at the Hilton, perhaps because of copyright reasons, as it is such a beautiful song, one of the Starship’s best written and sung so incredibly well by alumni Marty Balin and the Fender Rhodes repeating an ascending scale that raised your armhairs.

Mickey Thomas’ voice was on pitch considering the high ranges he vaults to and from, but could take a tip from Boz Scaggs and get a steam humidifier tube on his mike stand, as he cracked from time to time due to “Vegas Throat” a malady that affects every singer that comes into town…..but don’t misunderstand me; he performed with full heart and soul and brought you back to yesteryear and the days of ballads mixed with energized rock and roll.

Stephanie Calvert was a delight to hear and see and she’s quite sexy in dress, delivery, and dramatics as she belts out Grace’s legacy without the slightest hesitation. Her latex-laced legs and forceful features grabbed you and forced you to become engaged with her siren-like serenade and the audience loved her.

The band consists of:

Mickey Thomas *Lead Vocals, Guitar – Stephanie Calvert *VocalsMark Abrahamian *Lead Guitar, VocalsJeff Adams *Bass, VocalsPhil Bennett *Keyboards, VocalsDarrell “Pelican” Verdusco *Drums, Vocals

In case you’ve forgotten their hits here are some they performed: “Jane” “No Way Out” “We Built This City” “Sarah” “Nothing Gonna Stop Us Now” “Find Your Way Back” “Stranger” “Laying It On The Line” “It’s Not Over Till It’s Over” and the Elvin Bishop Group’s, “I Fooled Around and Fell in Love,” a song Mr. Thomas carries with him from his time as the lead singer for Elvin Bishop-a trivia fact not well known.

It was a fun 90 minute romp of rock and roll the old fashioned way……with real musicians with everyone’s ‘hearts’ in every song….now if I can just get Mickey Thomas to sing that song……..Hearts Will Be That Way.

clapton winwood

It was a rare privilege and honor to be at the “presence” of these incredible intense and dedicated human beings. Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood in concert, this, first time since they combined to form the group “Blind Faith” in the Sixties. The magic was in the air, the ballads and blues graceful and the memories abounded as their humbleness and love for their music overwhelmed everyone. Steve Winwood, a Hammond B-3 (my god -he even used the stops constantly!) a relic long gone for decades. His exquisite guitar playing and beautiful voice, combined with Clapton totally in the pocket of that ‘zone,” was extraordinary, the height of which I’ve seen but few times in the many times I have seen him in concert. His eyes closed or rolled upwards, no need for him to look at his fretboard; his power, speed, and emotion pulsated through every cell and molecule in your body………..Voodoo Chile……….Eric goes outside himself and reincarnates Hendrix, something that he himself said in an interview that he was “afraid” of approaching………he obviously conquered that fear and went beyond……..he “kept on growing.”
“The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys”-acoustic piano solo with Steve was precious beyond words…….the acoustic guitar sets with both legends………just a jewel of time to be treasured. May it’s effect last as long as those memories can.

Clapton / Winwood Set List – 27 June 2009
MGM Grand Arena, Las Vegas, NV

1.  Had To Cry Today
2.  Low Down
3.  After Midnight
4 . Presence of The Lord
5.  Sleeping in the Ground
6 . Glad
7.  Well Alright
8.  Tough Luck Blues
9.  Pearly Queen
10. There’s A River
11. Forever Man
12. Low Spark of High Heeled Boys
Acoustic Set
13. Driftin’
14. How Long Blues
15. Layla – (acoustic version)
16. Can’t Find My Way Home
Back to Ass-Kicking Rock and Roll
17. Split Decision
18. Voodoo Chile

The Encore:
19. Cocaine
20. Dear Mr. Fantasy

Band Lineup:
Eric Clapton – guitar, vocals
Steve Winwood – vocals, Hammond B3, piano, guitar
Chris Stainton – keyboards
Willie Weeks – bass
Abe Laboriel, Jr. – drums

Sharon White – backup vocals
Michelle John – backup vocals

acpopfestival
Photo from E-Rock World
BEFORE WOODSTOCK THERE WAS THE ATLANTIC CITY POP FESTIVAL
Here’s a good link for it:  http://www.e-rockworld.com/AtlanticCity.htm

I attended this incredible concert as a young lad and it changed my life for the better. I still have the original mimeographed line-up sheet. My uncle was the Chief of Police for Galloway Township, the place where the show was held, and I had to hear all kinds of shit about “druggie hippies” and the like. Of course, I never did any of those things…I swear (supreme bullshit) Here’s the super line-up courtesy Wikipedia:
American Dream
Aum
Booker T. & The M.G.s
Tim Buckley
Paul Butterfield Blues Band
The Byrds
Canned Heat
The Chambers Brothers
Chicago **Chicago Transit Authority
Joe Cocker
The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown
Credence Clearwater Revival
Dr. John
Cass Elliot
Iron Butterfly
Jefferson Airplane
Janis Joplin
Lighthouse
Little Richard
Lothar and the Hand People
Hugh Masekela
Buddy Miles
Joni Mitchell
Mother Earth
Tracy Nelson
Procol Harum
Buddy Rich
Biff Rose
Santana
Sir Douglas Quintet
Three Dog Night
Edgar Winter
Biff Rose
Frank Zappa

Biff Rose was the MC and filled in for Joni Mitchell when she started to cry and ran off stage in the middle of her 3rd song when the crowd was not paying attention to her performance. It seems she was placed in the rotation directly after Mother Earth featuring Tracy Nelson and the crowd wasn’t ready to hear her mild act.

Crosby, Stills & Nash were originally on the lineup but ended up as a no-show, Nash supposedly had polyps on tonsils (but sang at Woodstock two weeks later). The Chambers Brothers were a last-minute substitute.

gd1

A 1990’s PHOTO. A MOMENT FROZEN IN TIME

The rain wore on day after day and one could only describe the sky as bleak and bursting with moisture. My hopes of bringing my niece to her first experience at a Dead concert, Grateful but for Jerry Garcia, long gone, was dimmed as to her getting the full experience of the last 45 years that started with the hippie tail-gating parties, that were long established before the football game feasts of John Maddenish times. This night was to be special. The Spectrum, home to such legends as Bobby Clarke and Julius Erving was to be torn down soon, but those fellows in this band had played here every decade since the sixties. This was to be their swan song; two nights of one last goodbye and possibly their last tour together as time takes its toll.

Arriving early while it was still raining, we turned into the lot at the Wachovia Center and by the time we got out of the car it not only stopped raining, the sun began to peek through those dark clouds. It actually came out and it was glorious. The tents were up, the illegal vendors of grilled cheese, hamburgers, chicken, Tye-dyed T-shirts and nitrous oxide were out in full force, along with two completely instrumented rock bands playing in full regalia, hippie buses, modern Prevost million-dollar luxurious cross country rigs, women in their forties hawking illegal beer, wine, and mixed drinks, and purveyors of pipes, paraphernalia, and pot were circulating like pasta on a table for an Italian Sunday meal.

Dominque, the namesake of my father’s eyes opened wide and amazed but I knew this was only the preliminary party. The walk up those old worn concrete Spectrum stairs and the entry into this place brought me back to an age of youth years even younger than hers. The high school nights of The Grateful Dead, The Allman Brothers, Yes, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, Pink Floyd, and many, many others for a pittance of $8.50 a ticket came back as if it was yesterday. I have seen the Dead countless times across the country in California, Colorado, New York, Maryland, Washington, and so on and had seen them in this building more times than I can remember. Enough to know where to negotiate a great seat for sight lines, sound, and of course for the lack of much younger crazed high screaming, testosterone-laden Dead-Heads that my old frail body could not fit in the mix or blend easily without serious consequences to my health.

It was the same old game that came back to me. The seats half empty predicted a low turnout, but the bustle around the legitimate indoor lobby’s vendor stands was body to body. The lights came down and the first move began by the band to get them to their seats and of course it worked. There was not a seat to be had. One by one each band member gracefully entered; went through their pre-show preparations and people hustled to their seats or to light up leaves of a weed to tune them in, and in this drug-paranoiac age of hysteria, no one would have expected them to do it, but then how can you arrest 15,000 people? And this was the way it always was, and everyone knew it and didn’t care. Obviously no one was stupid enough to stop them. So billows of smoke not tainted by cigarettes floated upwards along with those consciousnesses that inhaled it. And then it began.

Opening with “Playing in the Band,” morphing halfway to a series of unpredictable incredible renditions of old sixties, seventies and eighties lyrical Robert Hunter/Jerry Garcia songs, and then those of Bob Weir, the dose of the Dead’s sound, the interplay of pure improvisation, free-form jazz, spirit, and energy took over; And they were on that locked-in wave, shooting the tube and taking chances like I’ve never heard or seen before. Every note was on-beat, on-tune, on-pitch and Bob Weir didn’t even miss a lyric, as the crowd didn’t either. Every human body was dancing, singing, swaying, whirling like dervishes dancing to the Eternal on top of the world in Nepal. It was an incredible experience of communication between the band, the fans, the place, the space and all cylinders were firing hot, heavy, and hard. Can you imagine 15,000 people all singing every complex lyric to every song and being able to be in the middle of this human verbal “wave” of emotion? I think not unless you were there feeling it run through you. Hearing the earth and stadium tremble at the cheering of every familiar song, bar, and phrase. These were fans that any band would die for and that allegiance was rewarded in kind by those gentle men that gave, received, and gave back those emotions in an endless circle of time for the essence of music, spirit, and the vibratory movement of life.

My niece was in awe of the entire gestalt. And after three and a half hours of precise and precision musicianship, even Phil Lesh, now 70 years-old, played with the abandon of that of a human at 18. It all began with the Grateful Dead, the Further Bus, the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Tests, 420 Time, the audio man/then legal LSD manufacturer Owlsey Stanley, the counter-culture revolution of the Romantic Age of our time. They were the cause and draw of the lore of the Haight-Ashbury summer of love in 1967, while they snuck out of their house in the Haight before the hordes of a lost generation of seekers invaded and destroyed the very thing they were looking for as a Time magazine cover propelled the impetus even further. Ken Kesey, Neal Cassady, Kerouac, Ginsberg, and the beat generation’s finest minds were here this night, wrapped up into an experience of vulnerability and chance mixed in with the old and familiar. It was life imitating art, imitating life.

The best part was that after it was all over, I had previously paid for the CD recording at a vendor’s stand for an official record of what I just heard, and picked it up shortly after the concert. This would prove I wasn’t just breathing the sweet air and exaggerating and misinterpreting the amazement of what I heard emanating from that old familiar stage. This was one of the top five concerts I had ever heard, without any doubt and many smiles and conversation with others confirmed it, as did the CD afterwards. What an initiation this was for my niece.

To describe this communing with this band is rightly impossible to do, however an old cliché’ came to mind and that is, “There Is Nothing Like A Grateful Dead Concert” and whatever name they’ve morphed to, there never will be. I am honored and truly ‘grateful’ to have been there on a night that the band knew was special as well as acknowledged by Phil Lesh saying, “It’s been a long time, we’ve forgotten how intense you all are here in Philly.”

So did I Phil, so did I.

My wife has been pestering me for the last few months to take her to see Barry Manilow.  I have been resisting her for many different reasons.  Having been a musician seeking work in the recession era of the mid-70s, and experiencing the repercussions of the disco era disc jockeys that put many a musician out of work, I had a little bit of bitterness at just the sound of his name.  It’s not that I didn’t listen to the songs, I just had a bad attitude towards any of the popular music of that time.  Give me the Grateful Dead, Allman Brothers, and The Band anytime.  After all, that was the era that produced the Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band movie starring the BeeGees-how much more sacrilegious can you get?  Having spoken to other people who had seen the show, I was aware that, not only was it entertaining, but that many people went back a second and a third time and that Mr. Manilow had to rotate his musical selections to accommodate that.  Not many shows in Vegas have that repeatability factor so I was a little impressed.  I broke down and bought tickets for my wife’s birthday and then had to endure the ridicule of my brother a former metalhead 10 years younger than I.

The crowd became restless when the preshow music repeated itself 15 minutes after the show was scheduled to open.  We were directly in front of the soundboard and there was some hubbub related to the show’s late opening.  Finally the lights dimmed and the show went on.  His voice seemed a little off key and scratchy which is not unusual for a singer in Las Vegas.  Due to the very low humidity and dryness “Vegas throat” can strike at any time.  His band consisted of three very multi-talented and beautiful female dancers/backup singers and one equally talented male, three keyboard players, a more than adequate horn section, and a very tight rhythm section that replicated those pulsing sweaty disco beats that brought a bevy of inebriated John Travolta wannabes to the wooden parquet dance floors as part of the mating call rituals of the late 70s.  Not having heard these songs in over 25 years I was able to judge them without prejudice and indeed I was extremely impressed at Mr. Manilow’s arrangements and especially the complexity of each song’s developmental middle sections.  The little Jewish boy from Brooklyn really did a monumental job of taking influences from jazz and the big band era and infusing them into sugary teenage love ballads that struck a chord and delivered to him the most of commercial success.  For that he should be given his due, and the passion that he evokes from his audiences cannot be ignored.  He IS “Music and Passion” as is aptly the name of this production.  There are film clips and an audio piece of a recording from his childhood that plays into a wonderful true story of how Mr. Manilow began his travels on a path to stardom.  Overall, the music was more than entertaining, it brought you back to a time of innocence a time when you shook your thing (as he did more than once calling himself “a boney ass”), did not worry about tomorrow, and merged with the flashing lights and disco ball’s splintered starlight and didn’t worry about what it all meant.

As he warmed up his voice got stronger and stronger as each song demanded more and more of his upper register, something I do believe was preplanned and smartly executed, as age begins to diminish one’s vocal range.  He performed everything that one would expect him to perform and delved into some Motown and other 60’s songs that were most entertaining.  The grande finale was of course Copacabana and a giant steel staircase with a huge disco ball dropped from the ceiling and he danced and cavorted with his fellow singers and mimicked the bygone era of disco.

Objectively, I must admit I was fascinated listening to his arrangements and the complexities of this man’s music.  He was indeed the king of the pop ballad back then and he deserves his due.  And as much as I despise that whole era of mindless music, his music is anything but mindless.  His words may appeal to the heartstrings of female adolescence, but so did that of the Beatles in the very beginning of their careers.  Yes, I have to admit it, I thoroughly enjoyed the show and would highly recommend it.  That, in itself shows you how much I’ve matured as well.  No hard feelings Barry, you indeed were the man who wrote the songs and lived your dreams.