31st Aug2012

Canned Heat Jams Away at SPACE in Evanston

by rockchicago

 

Part of the excitement of listening to music comes from finding a way to connect with its ephemerality.  Music is fleeting and temporary in so many ways, existing in the moment it finds a listener, then sounding different to each person and with each successive listen depending on the circumstances.  Listening to a song can transport one back to a previous era and it doesn’t necessarily need to be one they’ve directly experienced.  In that sense music is also timeless as it helps us to bridge those gaps and link with those hearing the song together.

Canned Heat’s current incarnation proudly includes three member of the band who performed at Woodstock.  That’s quite a burden for a band to carry, being a link back to an iconic time in American and musical history.  However the band also carries other musical legacies, centered around the blues and boogie rock, including several recordings with the legendary John Lee Hooker.  This sets a high bar for an intimate performance with the kings of the boogie, and over the course of two sets and two-and-a-half hours, they delivered.

With Fito de la Parra on drums, Larry “the Mole” Taylor on bass and guitar, and Harvey Mandel on guitar representing the Woodstock era, the band also included Dale Spalding on harmonica, guitar, and vocals.  Fito hosted the show from his drum kit, announcing each song and setting the historical context.  They opened with “On the Road Again,” then played two songs from their “Hallelujah” record including “Time Was.”  Their amiable and laid-back vibe bounced between playfulness and just enough rowdiness to keep the audience on their toes.  It’s clear there is a great chemistry between the band members, and that these are all accomplished musicians who have been performing for over fifty years.  Speaking of those getting on in age, Mandel dedicated the next song to his 87 year old mother who was there in the audience to cheer him on, and he treated her to a hot blues solo.  Mom must love the whammy bar as Mandel used it to perfection.

Taylor then switched over to the open-tuned guitar to play slide to, as de la Parra noted, “show off some of the different Canned Heat influences.”  Taylor’s resume includes time with John Mayall in the 70’s all the way through Tom Waits in the 80’s and 90’s so it came as no surprise to see him switch styles with such agility.  Careful listeners could hear the differences between types of blues as the night wore on and the band proved proficient at all of them.  They closed the first set with “Goin’ Up the Country,” an unofficial anthem of Woodstock, the documentary about it, and the era itself.  It was a true crowd pleaser, bringing those seated at tables to their feet before the set break.

The second set got off to a strong start with “Amphetamine Annie,” (including the great line “Speed Kills!”) followed by “World in a Tangle.”  The latter was introduced as the band’s “environmental song,” and it felt like during it they started to gel on another level.  Next, staying with the pattern of not having a pattern, they dipped back into an earlier style with a long jam on Charlie Musselwhite’s “Christo Redemptor.”  They followed this by asking the audience if they were now “ready to rock,” which we were and the band did.

The attention then widened beyond the band as we saw a series of musicians in the house sit in with the band.  Chicago guitar great Dave Spector joined in for a rousing blues number.  His solo fleshed out a classic sound while the band gave him room to play.  A few songs later, “Let’s Get Together” benefitted from the bass work of Beau Sample (whose Fat Babies band are worth checking out!).  He stayed on board as Barrelhouse Chuck took a seat at the piano for the grand “Canned Heat Boogie” to end the second set.

After a one-song blues encore, audience members swarmed the tiny stage to get autographs from and chat with the musicians who just treated them to an American musical education.  While Canned Heat never achieved the level of success enjoyed by many of the performers they appeared with at Monterey and Woodstock, they have managed not only to stay relevant but also to be the ones proudly carrying the music forward.  This was a night to re-meet the boogie, to revel in Chicago and slide guitar blues, to get lost in psychedelic jams, and to sing along with folky favorites.  Canned Heat is playing several dates around Illinois over the next week or so before heading to Europe.  The passion and honesty of their music, along with its groovy playfulness, will serve them well as they continue to give audiences the chance to reconnect with the music of the past while keeping it exciting for today.

Reviewed by Neil Rigler on 8/30/12

31st Aug2012

“Dreamgirls” Dazzles the Stage at Marriott Theatre

by rockchicago

 

Many of you who’ve seen the 2006 film Dreamgirls starring Jennifer Hudson and Beyonce, may notice a bit of difference when seeing the show live on stage like at the Marriott Lincolnshire Theatre. The last time that Marriott put on the show was in 1995, and the most recent tour of Dreamgirls came through Chicago in 2010 starring American Idol’s Syesha Mercado. With a show like Dreamgirls, it was very interesting performed in the round.

Dreamgirls is a Broadway musical, with music by Henry Krieger and lyrics and book by Tom Eyen. Based upon the show business aspirations and successes of R&B acts such as The Supremes, The Shirelles, James Brown, Jackie Wilson, and others, the musical follows the story of a young female singing trio from Chicago, Illinois called “The Dreams”, who become music superstars. The musical opened on December 20, 1981 at the Imperial Theatre, and was nominated for thirteen Tony Awards, including the Tony Award for Best Musical, and won six. It was later adapted into a motion picture from DreamWorks and Paramount Pictures in 2006.

Raena White played Effie with a very strong presence onstage. She proved that she owned the role, especially with some of the key songs like the signature song from the show “And I Am Telling You (I’m Not Going), “I Am Changing” and “One Night Only.” Though there was a little bit of problem for me. White’s vocals were very good but they weren’t great. Some of the higher notes seemed a little tough for her from what I saw. But I’m going to cut her a bit of slack for that because it’s a vocally challenging role and a vocal challenging show in general.

 

The other dreams, Britney Coleman as Deena and Rashidra Scott as Lorrell were perfectly cast, though Scott had one of the best vocals in the show. Coleman reminded me of a young Diana Ross as Deena. That’s a good thing, since the original idea for the show was based on groups like Diana Ross & The Supremes. Coleman did lack a bit though on the acting. Scott’s Lorrell was very believable and real.

Byron Glen Willis as Curtis Taylor Jr., the manager, was so good you actually want him to go down in the show. His acting was superb along with the other guys in the show, Travis Turner as C.C. and Trinity P. Murdock as Marty, James “Thunder” Early’s manager.

 

The standout for me throughout the whole show was Eric LaJuan Summers who was so enjoyable to watch onstage that you never want to see him go. Summers’ portrayal of Jimmy Early was practically one of the highlights of the show. The audience went crazy over him. His vocals are outstanding and his acting and dance moves were perfectly shown. He definitely deserves a lot of credit for that role. It’s too bad that Summers is leaving the role next week to pursue another project, but those who did get to see him, were in for a treat.

Definitely, the highlights in the show are Raena White and Eric LaJuan Summers. The band was especially good, musically directed by Doug Peck, and the choreography and direction by Marc Robin were solid as well. Costumes by Nancy Missimi were stunning too. Keep your eye out during one of the scenes. There is a costume change by Effie that will astound you.

I highly recommend this production for everything it is and the talent. Sometimes I feel let down by Marriott, but this show proved they can do a lot with a great show like Dreamgirls. It has already been Jeff Recommended.

Dreamgirls will continue through October 28th with performances as follows:

Wednesdays at 1 p.m. and 8 p.m.,Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m.,Saturdays at 4:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sundays At 1 and 5 p.m.

Tickets range from $41- $49 and can be purchased at the box office, by phone at 847-634-0299 or online at www.Ticketmaster.com

Dinner theater packages are also available for as low as $55 per person with some great dining experiences. Seniors and students get $5 off on matinees and Sundays.

Marriott Theatre of Lincolnshire is located in Lincolnshire at Ten Marriott Drive (just south of Route 22 and east of Route 21 with loads of FREE Parking.

For a video clip of the show, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFqsLLp_FEQ&feature=player_embedded

Reviewed by Kevin Pollack on 8/29/12

Rating: 5/5

29th Aug2012

Roger Hodgson Astounds the Audience at Ravinia Festival

by rockchicago

All photos by Peter S. Sakas 

 

Roger Hodgson co-founded the band Supertramp in 1969. He is considered the “voice of Supertramp” serving as the lead singer and writer of nearly all their hits throughout their peak of popularity in the seventies and early eighties. He left Supertramp in 1983 and he has had a series of critically acclaimed and successful solo albums. His appearance at Ravinia was eagerly anticipated by all those in attendance.

When Hodgson walked on stage he was greeted with thunderous applause, a clear indication that he was beloved by the crowd. He wore a great big grin and seemed genuinely moved by warm reception. He sat behind the keyboard and dove right into one of Supertramp’s big hits, Take the Long Way Home, which the audience adored.

One of the problems I have noticed at Ravinia is the late arriving crowd. After his first song, Hodgson noticed all the latecomers streaming in and he said, “You’re late. You’re missing the best song!” He went on to say that this was his first US band tour in many years and would be doing songs from Supertramp as well as from some solo albums. He mentioned that it is “great that my music has moved so many people.” He stated that, “Hopefully, one or two songs will bring you to a special point in your lives.” In his generous set of twenty songs he more than achieved that goal.

 

Set List (All songs written by Roger Hodgson)

1)      Take the Long Way Home (Supertramp)

2)      School (Supertramp)

3)      In Jeopardy (Solo Album)

4)      Lovers in the Wind (Supertramp)

5)      Hide in Your Shell (Supertramp)

6)      Sister Moonshine (Supertramp)

7)      Breakfast inAmerica(Supertramp)

8)      Lady (Supertramp)

9)      C’est le Bon (Supertramp)

10)  The Logical Song (Supertramp)

11)  Death and a Zoo (Solo Album)

12)  If Everyone Was Listening (Supertramp)

13)  Lord Is It Mine? (Supertramp)

14)  Child of Vision (Supertramp)

15)  Know Who You Are (Supertramp)

16)  Don’t Leave Me Now (Supertramp)

17)  Fool’s Overture (Supertramp)

18)  Dreamer (Supertramp)

Encore

19)  Give a Little Bit (Supertramp)

20)  It’s Raining Again (Supertramp)

 

For his second song, School, he strapped on his guitar and as the familiar tune was recognized there was a fine ovation. The crowd really got into his performance and he received a standing ovation. As he was working through his catalog of music he would move between his grand piano, twelve string guitar, and electric piano. He was backed by some fine musicians on bass guitar, drums, keyboards, and a multi-instrumentalist on keyboards, sax, harmonica, and other assorted instruments!

 

He introduced one of the songs as his most requested and has been one of his favorites, Hide in Your Shell. He said that people have told him that this song had helped them through some rough times and that “it helped me as I was going through some tough times when I wrote it.” This song was definitely meaningful to many in the audience as I noticed quite a few were singing along. When he finished he received a rousing standing ovation.

He then said that there is a twelve year old girl in the audience, Surf, and it is her birthday so this song is for you. He then sang Sister Moonshine. As Hodgson was performing there was a warmth about him that was definitely palpable and he just seemed to emanate sincerity. It was a similar sensation I had when I had seen Jon Anderson perform in a solo acoustic concert. Hodgson had an easy manner about himself and was very engaging as he would speak to the audience or describe the significance of his songs. He made a real connection with the crowd which just enhanced the total concert experience.

His comments about the following two songs were pretty amusing. He stated, “When I was a youngster and had my dreams I wanted to go to Californiaand meet all the girls.” But pandering to the crowd he said, “But I did not know about Chicagothen!” which the crowd loved. “I wrote this song about this, Breakfast in America.” The crowd really got into this Supertramp classic, responding by standing, dancing, singing, and giving a rousing standing ovation. As he stood there reveling in the thunderous ovation he was beaming back at his adoring fans. He then said, “Everyone loved that song except my girlfriend!” Following with, “I didn’t make the same mistake with the next song, Lady.”

 

After performing C’est le Bon, he went into the next song and said, “See if you remember this one!” As he began to play The Logical Song it was clear the crowd did remember and a great cheer arose. There was some fun interplay between the drummer and the sax player on percussion during this song. It seemed as though the band really was enjoying themselves and this performance. The band received the loudest standing ovation of the night for their enthusiastic rendition of this Supertramp classic.

I could really see that Hodgson appreciated the response of the crowd to his performance this night. He responded sincerely with, “You’re a great audience. I can feel the love. I am very happy to have been invited to play here.” He introduced the next selection with “I am going to try something very different.” It was a song from his recent solo album called Death and a Zoo. He said it asks the question if “you were a wild animal would you prefer death or life in a zoo.” It was a very interesting piece of music and the audience listened with rapt attention. It closed with African chanting and all sorts of wild animal sounds dissolving into the sound of synthesizers and the haunting line “Caught in a man’s dream, silent the heart screams, does it feel lonely?” A very powerful song and it was well received by the audience.

 

He continued with a series of Supertramp songs. Ironically, after Don’t Leave Me Now, some insensitive audience members began streaming out, perhaps figuring this was one of the last songs. Hodgson stood gazing over the crowd, watching those exiting and said, “We aren’t quite finished!” I was definitely embarrassed as here was an international rock icon, giving us a wonderful, heartfelt performance and some boors in the crowd did not give him the respect he deserved. It was their loss, that is for sure.

He then performed a very interesting piece of music, which he actually created from three short instrumental pieces he had written, he tied them together into a song called Fool’s Overture, which to me was a definite highlight of the night. Definitely had progressive rock overtones and it did this old prog rocker’s heart good to hear a piece of music like this! The crowd loved it as well as they gave a standing ovation. Once again Hodgson stood gazing over his appreciative fans with a warm smile on his face.

 

For the final song of the set he finished with the Supertramp classic, Dreamer. He said that anyone who wants to come down to the front of the stage for this song, feel free. He asked security not to stop them. Well the crowd took him up on the offer and streamed down to the front of the stage and standing in the aisles. The crowd was standing, dancing, and singing. Hodgson had a great big grin on his face as he was overseeing the bobbing mass of humanity before him while he was performing. Great song and received another standing ovation.

 

For his encore he came back on stage he strapped on his twelve string guitar and said “Thank you Chicago. I’ve been expecting no less and you have been great in Chicago. Are you ready to give a little bit?” Well you know that answer to that question. It was a resounding “yes” and the crowd was clapping, dancing, and singing at the top of their lungs to this infectious Supertramp hit, Give a Little Bit, which was just made for a singalong! It was a super version of the song!

For the final song he said, “It never rains in Chicago! You have been fantastic and hope we can be back again soon.” He then launched into It’s Raining Again. Once again, after playing a two hour concert and performing twenty songs, Hodgson was still enjoying himself, smiling at the crowd, and mugging with the audience as he was performing. A wonderful standing ovation from a very appreciative crowd. As he left the stage he said, “Hope to see you soon. God bless.” I know I would be eager to see him again when he returns on tour and I know the rest of the crowd would be in total agreement with me.

 

It was a fine show by a very talented musician. His voice has not diminished one bit over the years. Some of his interpretations of the Supertramp classics were new and fresh. He had a great backing band which really stretched out on some of the songs and sounded just superb. Ravinia was once again a great venue for this performance making for a totally enjoyable concert experience.

Reviewed by Peter S. Sakas on 8/23/12

29th Aug2012

Fagen Keeps The Dukes of September Rhythm Revue Alive at Ravinia

by rockchicago

 

On a beautiful Wednesday evening, folks were rushing to get their seats to “The Dukes of September Rhythm Revue,” a show that Donald Fagen of Steely Dan started up back in 2010 with Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs. The project is a resurrection of the previous New York Rock and Soul Revue which featured the same three musicians and played a combination of hits from the members respective careers as well as a wide variety of covers.

Donald Fagen and Michael McDonald began working together in the mid-1970s when McDonald would collaborate with Steely Dan, singing and playing keyboards on a lot of their material. The two worked together again during the early 1990s in the short lived New York Rock and Soul Revue which also included Boz Scaggs, Phoebe Snow, Eddie Brigati, David Brigati, Charles Brown, Walter Becker (of Steely Dan), Cornelius Bumpus and Mindy Jostyn.

With the bill strong as ever tonight, I was just waiting to see how they would each bring their own game. The big disappointment of the night is the disaster that has become Michael McDonald. When he was in The Doobie Brothers in the 70’s, his voice was up to par, but as years grew on, he obviously cannot hit the high notes that he used to. Every time McDonald had a high note to sing during the show, he would “cheat” the mic, by singing to the side of the microphone. That was very disappointing, since he “used to” be one of my favorites. McDonald sang through most of his old Doobie songs including “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near),” “What A Fool Believes” and “Takin’ It to the Streets.”

Donald Fagen was the highlight of the show. As I am not the biggest fan of Boz Scaggs, I’ve always loved the music of Steely Dan. Fagen took charge of the whole show, and when it came time to perform some Steely Dan songs, he was all over it. With songs like “Pretzel Logic,” “Kid Charlamagne,” “Hey Nineteen,” “Peg” and “Reelin’ in the Years,” Fagen proves he still has the chops to sing his own music. With facial and body antics like Joe Cocker, Fagen kept his Rhythm Revue alive with not just Steely Dan songs but other R&B artists’ songs too like “Who’s That Lady” by Isley Brothers, “Summer in the City” by The Lovin’ Spoonful,” “Thank You (Fallettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” by Sly & The Family Stone and “People Get Up” by James Brown.

Boz Scaggs was another highlight of the night. As I said before about how I am not a personal fan, the crowd sure did love him. Playing his hit songs like “Lowdown” and “Lido Shuffle,” everyone was so happy to hear those songs played to perfection. Scaggs also showed off on other songs too like “The Same Thing” by Willie Dixon, “Never Can Tell” by Chuck Berry and “Love TKO” by Teddy Pendergrass.

The Rhythm Revue wouldn’t have been complete without the excellent backup vocals of Catherine Russell and Carolyn Leonhart. Those two together knocked all three of the featured singers out of the park. Russell blew everyone away with an outstanding version of “Piece of My Heart” originally by Aretha Franklin’s sister Erma Franklin, later covered by Janis Joplin. She later dueted with Scaggs on a great rendition of Boz’s songs “Miss Sun.”

Overall, this was a great show with great classics by great and legendary artists. Russell, Scaggs and Fagen brought the house down tonight. I only wish McDonald can focus on getting his notes right the next time around. It would be interesting if Fagen got more people involved. Special props for the night go to guitarist Jon Herington who was freakin’ outstanding throughout the night!

 

Dukes of September Rhythm Revue Setlist:

People Get Up and Drive Your Funky Soul / James Brown – vocal: Leonhart & Russell
That Lady / Isley Brothers – vocal: Fagen, McDonald, Scaggs
Sweet Soul Music / Arthur Conley – vocal: Fagen, McDonald, Scaggs
I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near) / Doobie Brothers – vocal: McDonald
Trouble Man / Marvin Gaye – vocal: Fagen
Kid Charlamagne / Steely Dan) – vocal: Fagen
The Same Thing / Willie Dixon – vocal: Scaggs
Miss Sun / Scaggs – vocal: Scaggs and Catherine Russell
Heard It Through The Grapevine / Gladys Knight – vocal: Carolyn Leonhart
Never Can Tell / Chuck Berry – vocal: Scaggs
Summer In The City / Lovin’ Spoonful – vocal: Fagen
If You Don’t Know Me By Now / Melvin & the Bluenotes – vocal: McDonald
What A Fool Believes / Doobie Brothers – vocal: McDonald
Hey Nineteen / Steely Dan – vocal: Fagen
Love TKO / Teddy Pendergrass – vocal: Scaggs
Piece Of My Heart / Erma Franklin – vocal: Catherine Russell
Peg / Steely Dan – vocal: Fagen
Lowdown / Scaggs – vocal: Scaggs
Takin’ It To The Streets / Doobie Brothers – vocal: McDonald and Catherine Russell
Reelin’ In The Years / Steely Dan – vocal: Fagen

Encore:

Lido Shuffle / Boz Scaggs – vocal: Scaggs
Pretzel Logic / Steely Dan – vocal: Fagen, McDonald, Scaggs
Thank You (Fallettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) / Sly & the Family Stone – vocal: Leonhart & Russell
Them Changes / Buddy Miles – vocal: McDonald
People Get Up and Drive Your Funky Soul (reprise) / James Brown – vocal: Leonhart & Russell

 

Reviewed by Kevin Pollack on 8/22/12

Rating: 3/5

20th Aug2012

Interview with Michael DeBarres

by rockchicago

Interviewed by Kevin Pollack 

 

Michael De Barres is a British actor and rock singer. He is known for playing the recurring role of Murdoc on the television show MacGyver and for replacing the late Robert Palmer in the band Power Station, fronting the band at the 1985 Live Aid concert. He is also the ex-husband of groupie, actress and author Pamela Des Barres and is written about extensively in two of her books, I’m with the Band: Confessions of a Groupie and Take Another Little Piece of My Heart.

I recently spoke with Michael about his career in music, TV and film.

———————————————————————————————————————————————-

Q: How did you get into acting?

MDB:  A VERY EARLY AGE I REALIZED I WAS CAPABLE OF EXPRESSING MYSELF IN ENTERTAINING WAYS.LIKE A CHILD DOES WHEN PRETENDING.THAT’S ALL IT REQUIRES TO ACT. TO PRETEND WITH SUCH CONVICTION THAT OTHERS BELIEVE YOU.SO,KEEPING THAT CHILD LIKE ABILITY TO COMPLETELY DISAPPEAR INTO SOMEONE ELSE REMAINS WITH ME TO THIS DAY.I GOT LUCKY WITH “TO SIR WITH LOVE”..

Q: How did you get involved with writing music?

MDB: I FELL IN LOVE WITH ROCK AND ROLL WHEN I FIRST HEARD ELVIS,OTIS AND THE BLUES..I KNEW I WOULD AND I COULD DO THAT.I SAT DOWN WITH A BATTERED OLD ACOUSTIC AND LEARNED THOSE 3 MAGIC CHORDS THAT I STILL USE TO THIS DAY.

Q: Where did the band Detective form from?

MDB: I WAS IN LA. I KNEW JIMMY AND ROBERT BECAUSE THEY WOULD COME AND SEE SILVERHEAD.JIMMY CAME TO A REHEARSAL OF DETECTIVE’S. DUG IT AND SIGNED US…. WE WERE,NEEDLESS TO SAY THRILLED..

Q: What film or TV role have you connected to the most and why?

MDB: MURDOC WAS MY FAVORITE ROLE. I LEARNED SO MUCH ABOUT WEAPONS AND STUNT DRIVING AND CONSISTENTLY PLAYING THE SAME CHARACTER BROUGHT ABOUT A DISTINCT RELAXATION THAT ENABLED ME TO HAVE FUN WITH THE PERFORMANCE AND YET REMAIN AS TRUE TO THE MAD ASSASSIN I WAS PLAYING..

Q: What is your favorite movie you’ve done?

MDB: DIARY OF A SEX ADDICT.. IT WAS A MOVIE I MADE WITH ROSANNA ARQUETTE AND NASTSSIA KINSKI..I FEEL IT WAS MY BEST PERFORMANCE. IT DEALT WITH A SIDE OF ME THAT WAS TRUE AND THEREFORE REQUIRED ME TO GO DEEPER THAN I HAD EVER GONE WITH ANY OTHER PERFORMANCE.THERE ARE TIMES IN THAT MOVIE THAT I WS UNAWARE OF THE CAMERA AND THOSE MOMENTS ARE WHAT WE ALL SEEK TO ACHIEVE.

Q: What made you decide to release a new album after all these years?

MDB: I MAY HAVE LEFT ROCK AND ROLL TO ACT BUT ROCK AND ROLL NEVER LEFT ME.I COULD NOT IGNORE THE BEAT OF THAT BASS DRUM IN MY HEART.THE UNBRIDLED JOY OF LIVE PERFORMANCE AND THE HUNDREDS OF SONGS I HAD WRITTEN! I WAS COMPELLED TO PLAY LIVE AGAIN..OUT OF THOSE COUNTLESS SHOWS IN DARK ROCK CLUBS IN MEMPHIS,NASHVILLE,AUSTIN AND CALIFORNIA WE PLAYED OUR ASSES OFF AND FORGED WHAT BECAME “CARNABY STREET” RECORDED AND MIXED IN 10 DAYS.EVERYTHING YOU HEAR IS ONE OR TWO TAKES. NO OVERDUBS EXCEPT FOR SOME TAMBOURINE AND BACK UP VOCALS.I SANG EVERY SONG LIVE WITH A GUITAR AROUND MY NECK.I DID NOT FIX A FUCKING WORD…THERE FORE THE ALBUM HAS AN ENERGY THAT I FIRST EXPERIENCED WHEN I SAW HENDRIX,CREAM. THE FACES,THE STONES,HUMBLE PIE.I WAS THERE YOU SEE. IT’S AS SIMPLE AS THAT.

Q: Whatever happened to your band Chequered Past? Would you guys ever reunite?

MDB: CHEQUERED PAST WAS A POWERFUL BAND AS WAS SILVERHEAD ..WE BROKE UP FOR THE REASONS ALL BANDS BROKE UP. DRUGS AND EGO.

Q: How do you feel about touring after all these years?

MDB: I HAVE NEVER FELT SO FULFILLED AND COMPLETE AS I DO TODAY.THESE 4 GUYS I’M PLAYING WITH ARE LIKE LIMBS ON A MUTANT HUMAN…A ONE MAN BAND. WE ROCK LIKE FUCK..AND THAT FEELS GOOD.

Q: What’s next for you?

MDB: NOW IS ENOUGH….!

 

Be sure to pick up Michael De Barres’ latest CD “Carnaby Street” here: http://www.amazon.com/Carnaby-Street-Michael-Barres/dp/B007VMSFF2/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1345485300&sr=1-1&keywords=michael+des+barres

17th Aug2012

Huey Lewis & Joe Cocker Tear Up Ravinia

by rockchicago

Photos by Peter S. Sakas 

 

I had great anticipation for this concert at Ravinia as Huey Lewis and Joe Cocker are two classic acts. It was a nice pairing of two masters of so-called “blue-eyed soul,” blues-rock, and rock. I had seen Huey Lewis several years ago when he had performed at Ravinia and as he was my wife’s favorite she was eager to see him again. I had seen all sorts of concert footage of Joe Cocker through the years but never had the experience of seeing him life. So we were both very excited about attending this concert at the fine venue that is Ravinia.

We arrived at 5:30 PM (90 minutes before the start of the concert) and the main parking lot was already filled. As we strolled around the grounds, the lawn was almost completely filled at this time with people dining and awaiting the concert, showing what a great draw these acts were.

Huey Lewis and the News

At the start of the concert I was surprised as it was about ¾ full. It was definitely a late-arriving crowd and it was definitely their loss to miss any part of this performance. The band came on stage and took their places with their instruments. The “beating” of the bass drum was audible and the crowd instantly recognized the introduction to the monster hit, The Heart of Rock and Roll. Huey Lewis then walked onstage to rousing applause, put his harmonica to his lips and we were on our way for a great concert experience. Huey was dressed casually in a lavender shirt, blue jeans, loafers, tinted glasses, was well-coiffed, and appeared quite fit for his sixty two years. But most importantly, his voice sounded just fine, age had done nothing to his distinctive vocals at all. He had terrific energy which he displayed all night long, roaming the entire length of the stage, and had that “feel good” type charisma he always projected.

 

He then moved right into (She’s) Some Kind of Wonderful. He was working pretty hard to get the audience fired up, but they still seemed to be in a bit of a stupor; maybe from their wine or a food coma. He encouraged the audience to join in with “I need some help.” But at this point there was what I felt a weak response to his entreaty. He received a nice ovation, but I felt that the crowd should really be more appreciative of the great job he was doing on stage.

He then introduced his two back up singers who sang lead with him on the Staples Singers classic Respect Yourself, which had been featured on his recent release “SoulsvilleUSA.” It was a super cover of this soul classic, his female back ups were superlative and Huey Lewis proved he could sing “soul music” as well as anyone! Outstanding.

The ensuing song was Never Like This Before and it really showcased his fine band. This song was punctuated by a killer guitar solo. The band consisted of a guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, three saxes, one trumpet, and the two female back up singers. It was a fine collection of skilled musicians.

 

Following a nice keyboard introduction Huey Lewis went into I Want a New Drug / Small World medley. Once again it featured a fine guitar solo, a solid horn section with a super sax solo. Huey kept encouraging the band while standing in the back of the stage during the solos, clapping along and dancing. It was an upbeat, rocking song and finally the crowd seemed to wake up and reward the band with a well-deserved rousing round of applause.

Huey Lewis seemed to begin to feed off the energy of the newly responsive crowd. He began I’m Doing It All For My Baby and as the audience recognized the tune greeted it with applause. Huey kept walking back and forth across the stage gesturing to the crowd and encouraging them. When he was at the verse “doing it all for my baby” he was imploring the crowd to sing along, holding the mike over the crowd. He let out a primal scream and that led into a guitar solo to end the tune. The band received a standing ovation.

Huey then pulled out his harmonica once again for the next song, Jacob’s Ladder. As he was singing he was carrying the microphone stand around and gesturing, giving a very spirited performance. There was an extended guitar solo as well as a harmonica solo by Huey.

 

Following the nice ovation he called out to the crowd, “Are you with me so far?’ There was a full-throated assent from the crowd. “Good. It was the right answer,” Huey responded. “Thanks, we are pleased to be inChicago, seeing so many of our youthful fans.” His next line cracked me up. “We used to be a beer and hot dog band and now we are hanging with a wine and cheese crowd….and I like it!” He then asked how many in the audience had seen Huey Lewis and the News before. A large number of hands went up and he replied, “You have great musical taste!” He went on to ask how many were seeing the band for the first time and a fairly large number of hands went up. He responded with, “I’m surprised, as we have only been together for THIRTY FOUR YEARS!” He then introduced the band. As the band was originally formed inSan Francisco, almost all the musicians were fromCalifornia.

He then remarked that the next song was going to be an audience participation number and they would be performing the song accapella. There were six vocalists on Little Bitty Pretty One, accompanied by a snare drum, bass and a couple of saxes. Huey Lewis said, “If you know it sing along, if you don’t, just clap. Don’t be shy…but you can’t be because this is CHICAGO!” The audience eagerly joined in by singing and clapping.

The band then continued with Stuck With You and some people started standing and dancing. Huey Lewis was pacing back and forth all over the stage, really seeming to be having a good time.

The Huey Lewis and the News mania continued as they went right into another huge hit, Heart and Soul. Huey was holding the microphone over the crowd as they were singing along with the chorus, “OOOOOO, OOOO” and encouraging everyone to clap their hands. There was another fine guitar solo and the crowd was really feeling it at this point. Huey let out another primal scream and the crowd gave a standing ovation. Huey peered out over the crowd and was pumping his fists. “Are you still with me? Say yeah!” The audience and Huey kept alternately cheering “yeah” back and forth. He had the whole audience standing and clapping.

 

The next song continued the emotional high as they began “But It’s Alright” the J.J. Jackson classic hit from the sixties (and one of my all time favorite upbeat songs). Huey did not disappoint one bit as he was manic on stage, strutting back and forth. He even performed a mini-xylophone solo (the instrument was held up by one of the back up singers). At the end of the song he let out another scream, “Oooooowwwww. Are you still with me? Prove it!”

For the final song of the set they performed Long Time, Good Time. There was a fine organ solo, which upon its completion Huey Lewis raised his hands to the Heavens and intoned “Lord have mercy!” He yelled out, “Did you have a good time?” The audience responded with a huge “yeah.” Huey once again was doing his fist pump. The song ended with a great guitar, then sax solo. The crowd gave a standing ovation.

 

The crowd then began clamoring for an encore. In one of my previous reviews (the Aerosmith review) I remarked how the cheering for encores had changed through the years. In my time it was standing, clapping and chanting “More, more!” That morphed into the holding of lighters. At the Aerosmith show it was people holding up their smartphones, some with images of a lit lighter on the screen. Well, as this was definitely an older crowd, I heard the crowd chanting “More, more!” There were no smartphones held up, no lighters. I had a broad smile on my face as I then began to chant more, more and clapping along. I was back in my element with my contemporaries!

 

The band came back out for the encore and Huey Lewis was spreading his arms wide, holding a bottle of water. He said, “All right, if you insist.” He continued with, “Thank you. We love what we do, but we can’t do it without you.”

He introduced the first song of the encore with, “We are going to do a song we wrote twenty six years ago. Who knew when we wrote it, we’d play it, EVERY NIGHT OF OUR LIVES!” The band then went into The Power of Love, their gigantic hit. Huey Lewis kept encouraging the audience, “Can you feel it?” “Sing it with me.” The audience was rocking! There was a huge standing ovation.

Huey Lewis introduced the next song by saying “These are some tough times to working folks. We dedicate this song as we do every night to the working folks. Workin’ for a Living.” Another enthusiastic performance. Huey Lewis and the band would be periodically flexing their arm muscles while performing. Huey also gave a pair of killer harmonica solos. The crowd gave a standing ovation as the band took their bows. They all rolled up their sleeves and flexed their arms. A great ending to a phenomenal show.

 

Huey Lewis and the News did not disappoint one bit, vocally nor musically. There was a palpable enthusiasm which Huey projected from the stage and it pervaded over the entire audience. For all the years he has been performing he was not just going through the motions, it was like he was performing these songs for the first time. It was a special experience for all in attendance. My wife is a huge fan and she was absolutely enthralled by his performance this evening. No one could have been the least bit disappointed by this quality performer and his wonderful concert.

Joe Cocker

I did not know what to expect from Joe Cocker. He had turned sixty-eight in May and he has been performing since 1960. I still had the mental images of him dancing in my head from his classicWoodstockperformances and also the outstanding parody by John Belushi from Saturday Night Live. He walked on stage to a warm, enthusiastic reception by the crowd. Here was this balding, heavy set man, with a scraggly beard, wearing a sport coat and running shoes, looking nothing like what I remembered him as in my mind’s eye. Then he began to sing! And boy did he sing! He sounded absolutely great. His voice has always been rough and gruff so age had not diminished it in the least. The only thing that had changed was that his hallmark frantic gestures (air guitar, air keyboard, strange gyrations) although still evident were definitely subdued. He still was a demonstrative performer and would contort his face in strange ways as he sang, but not to the degree in the past. My wife had never seen him perform ever, and said to me that it looked like he was having a heart attack, a seizure, or asthma attack. I just mentioned, you should have seen him years ago!

 

He opened with Hitchcock Railway. It was followed by a cover of Traffic’s Feelin’ Alright, which was probably one of the songs that propelled him on his way to legendary status. The audience was totally into Cocker’s performances and many were standing and dancing. He was up there singing his heart out and sounding absolutely great. He received a standing ovation.

The following song was his cover of a hit by the Box Tops, The Letter, which he “made his own” due to his phenomenal rendition. His rendition at this concert was no less phenomenal than the original recording. He was backed up by a great set of musicians, two keyboards, a sax, drums, guitar, bass, and two back up singers. This song was distinguished by great piano, sax, organ, and guitar solos. Joe Cocker was gesturing, doing his inimitable air guitar! As the song was completing, on the last note, he jumped up into the air! Not too bad for a man nearing seventy.

He then slowed it down a bit with a ballad. After a nice piano introduction, he went into When the Night Comes. Even with his “rough voice” he comes across well in the soft, ballads as well.

For the next song he said, “I’d like to welcome back the great Huey Lewis. He’s gonna help us play some blues.” Huey Lewis opened on harmonica as they performed Lonely Avenue, a nice blues number. After the song, Cocker gave Huey a great big bear hug.

As the familiar piano opening of Up Where We Belong was recognized by the audience there were whoops and hollers of approval. It was a great duet with one of his back up singers. I had a bit of a problem with her rendition as I was so used to the “country style” voice of the original Jennifer Warnes and she was a bit more “soul.” But it was nicely done nonetheless. Cocker was making great facial expressions throughout the entire song and played his “air keyboards.’

Keeping with the mellow theme he then went into the Billy Preston classic, which Cocker once again “made his own,” You Are So Beautiful. Once again as the crowd heard the familiar tune, they whooped and hollered. They began singing along. At the end of the song, Cocker had the trademark high pitched “to me” and the audience went wild, giving him the loudest standing ovation of the night.

 

Let me digress a moment to make some observations. When I first would watch Joe Cocker when he burst on the scene atWoodstock, he was more of a curiosity to me. His strange contortions, gyrations, screaming, etc. were very amusing to me. But as I was listening to him perform at this concert I realized what an amazing body of work this man has accumulated. He has recorded so many outstanding, iconic, classic songs. My wife mentioned to me during the concert that he has sung a lot of great songs which she did not realize were his and that she really was enjoying his performance. I then made some critical evaluations of my own. This man has covered so many songs, that he has “made his own,” that the original has paled by comparison. What makes Joe Cocker’s music so great? It is his interpretation of the song. It is his phrasing. It is his emotion. It is his wonderful vocal instrument which is so unique and can sound so alluring in a love ballad, yet be front and center in a blues-rocker! I had an epiphany. This man is not a gimmicky, quirky, twitchy singer. He is truly an outstanding musician, loaded with talent who has the amazing ability to work magic with the songs he sings. I was enraptured with his singing all night long!

His next selection was Hard Knocks which was another well done bluesy tune, accentuated by some fine guitar work.

His female bass player stepped forward and began playing the familiar bass line of the Beatle classic Come Together which the crowd greeted with approval. It was a great rocking tune, the band sounded outstanding, there was once again some fine guitar work and the audience sang along to the iconic song. Cocker’s take on this tune was unique and sounded absolutely great. Needless to say, another standing ovation.

Cocker then did a band introduction and this concert started to really amp up even higher than it was already at this point. The keyboard and sax created the “horn” introduction to the Randy Newman song, once again co-opted by Cocker, You Can Leave Your Hat On. All I could say was ….wow! The whole crowd was standing up and gyrating to this sensuous tune. Not meaning to insult anyone, but they were some good dancers in the audience and some “not so good dancers’ in the audience (who just could not find the beat). But the key point I am going to make is, that his music moved people to get up and dance and did they ever. The phrase “dance like no one is watching” sure held true. I watched the unabashed joy the audience members had dancing to the music of Joe Cocker and it made me appreciate his genius even more. Another standing ovation.

Cocker continued with a cover of the Ray Charles classic, Unchain My Heart, which as I have been saying all night, he “made his own.” It was a very energetic version, there was spontaneous dancing, a great sax solo, and Cocker once again did his trademark jump to accentuate the closing note. Standing ovation once again.

 

As the opening notes of the final song of the set were played on the organ everyone in the house knew what was coming, the Beatle classic (and the first song I had ever seen him perform in the film Woodstock) With a Little Help From My Friends. The audience began clapping and singing right from the start. The crowd absolutely loved this song. When he got to the part “Do you need anybody” and he gave his trademark scream….boy did he deliver that scream with gusto and the crowd roared its approval! He changed the words a bit as he continued singing “you need your friends, I got my friends with me” and the music kept building. When it became more intense he let out another full throated scream, played some air guitar, screamed again and if there was anyone sitting down they were now on their feet. The song ended on this driving, incessant beat working Cocker and the crowd into a frenzy. Once again on the last note he jumped in the air, the crowd went wild. Wow, wow, wow!

Cocker came back for the encore and did another Beatle cover, once again another song that became one of his bona fide hits, She Came in Through the Bathroom Window. The crowd stood, sang and danced for the entire encore. This song had the band cooking once again with another superlative guitar solo.

The final song of the night was Cry Me a River, a Julie London cover. This song was another highlight of the evening. Outstanding solos on the organ, piano, and guitar. But it was the phenomenal vocal talents of Joe Cocker which stood out. As the song ended he yelled out “Chicago, keep rocking. You’re the best!” He punctuated that statement with his trademark jump on the last note of the song once again. As he walked off the stage he received another rousing standing ovation.

What a concert experience this was for all who attended. We were treated to energetic and outstanding performances by two supremely talented musicians (and their bands) who, despite their years, performed with the enthusiasm of men a fraction of their ages. Vocally they still had it. To say it was a very entertaining evening would be a gross understatement. I walked away from that concert having even more respect for the performers than I did before.

A comment about the concert venue. We had pavilion seats and the sound was outstanding. It was clear, not distorted and the volume was just fine. I have been to way too many venues where the poor sound systems and extreme volume made the experience unbearable. Not so here. The whole Ravinia operation was top notch and made a fine concert an even more pleasurable experience.

Reviewed by Peter S. Sakas on 8/10/12

16th Aug2012

DVD Review: The Zombies: Recorded Live in Concert at Metropolis Studios, London

by rockchicago

The Zombies featuring Colin Blunstone & Rod Argent:Recorded Live in Concert at Metropolis Studios, London was such a joy to watch. Having already seen The Zombies in Chicago at Viper Alley, it was such a treat to almost relive that experience with this DVD.

The concert took place in the small Metropolis Studios in London in front of a crowd of about 100. They played 19 of their famous hits including many notable ones. Judging from seeing them in concert for the first time, then watching this, this DVD mostly reflected what I saw. After talking with Rod Argent for about an hour and a half after their show, he was probably one of the most interesting and fun people to talk to. Colin Blunstone was as well.

The boys started off the show with “I Love You.” From there, they went through a lot of their older material from their album Odessey & Oracle. The concert was a real delight with key members of the band showing off what they do best including Colin Blunstone incredibly singing his way through, Rod Argent on vocals and playing amazing keyboards, former Kinks and Argent bassist Jim Rodford, Jim’s son, Steve Rodford on drums, and the great Tom Toomey on guitar.

Some of the standout signature songs they performed included: “Care of Cell 44,” “This Will Be Our Year,” “Time of the Season,” “Tell Her No,” “Hold Your Head Up,” “She’s Not There” and “Summertime.”

Overall, this concert was another great experience of The Zombies at their best. I highly recommend this.

Reviewed by Kevin Pollack

Rating: 5/5

10th Aug2012

Cruisin’ for a Bluesin’: “The Bluesmasters Concert” Comes to Nebraska

by rockchicago

 

Hey Chicagoans, are you looking for something to do this Labor Day weekend? Feel like getting out of town, maybe taking a road trip? Are you a lover of Blues music like me? Maybe you have an old friend, or some family you’ve been meaning to go visit in Omaha or Lincoln, Nebraska. But you’ve been lacking the motivation to make the drive. You’ve needed an additional reason, just that extra little spark. Perhaps an appealing event to draw your interest.

Well, Friday, August 31st, The University of Nebraska and the Lincoln Saltdogs are sponsoring what we hope will one day be known as “The Inaugural” bluesfest called “The Bluesmasters Concerts”.  The concert, which in a very classy gesture I might add, honors the memory of the late Hubert Sumlin and Pinetop Perkins. Pinetop of course was the longtime piano player in Muddy Waters Band, while Hubert played for more than 20 years in Howlin’ Wolf’s band. The two of them collaborated on an album in 1999 called “Pinetop Perkins & Hubert Sumlin: Legends. They both passed away in 2011.

The lineup for the one day blues festival is worth the drive. Hosted by Fleetwood Mac’s Mick Fleetwood, the performers include Eric Gales, Otis Taylor, Leon Russell, Elvin Bishop, and the headline event, The Allman Brothers Band. Maybe Elvin will join the Brothers onstage for a version of Drunken’ Hearted Boy as he did in 1970? Once every 42 years like clockwork.

A portion of the proceeds from the night of music will benefit The Nebraska Legends Scholarship program. For more information, you can visit The Allman Brothers site (www.allmanbrothersband.com). Facebook users can go to: www.facebook.com/TheBluesmastersConcert . For ticket information, go to www.etix.com. So gas up the buggy, point it west, and come join us for a memorable day of music. And drive safely.

09th Aug2012

Happy Together Tour 2012 Makes a Comeback at the Genesee Theater

by rockchicago

 

The idea for this tour was hatched back in 1984 by Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan, two of the original members of the sixties band, The Turtles. They are better known now as Flo (shortened from the Phlorescent Leech for Volman) and Eddie (Kaylan) who achieved huge fame as a comedic musical duo. They felt that they could get iconic acts together from the sixties era and could tour together. To streamline things, avoiding all the time for each individual band to set up every time the next band came up, they decided to have a basic backing group of musicians and just the principal members of the bands would switch. It worked seamlessly and the show moved briskly along. As one band finished, walking off stage, the next was walking onstage, with the one or two key members and perhaps an additional musician, but the backing band remained pretty much the same. As Flo said during their set, “By doing the concert this way we can have you out of here before 11 o’clock!” And he was right.

I was very eager to see this concert as the bands that were playing really were the soundtrack of my life from the sixties, the Buckinghams, the Grass Roots, Gary Puckett, Mickey Dolenz (of the Monkees), and the Turtles. Despite my advancing age, I was probably younger than many in attendance, but it was a very spirited and enthusiastic crowd. They were out to have a good time, get nostalgic, and be entertained. Judging from the audience response all night long, the concert definitely was successful in that regard.

The Buckinghams opened and two of the original founding members performed, Carl Giammarese on vocals and Nick Fortuna on bass / backing vocals. They began with their big hit, Don’t You Care, and after the song thanked the audience for “helping make this one of our big hits.” They followed with the 1965 hit, Hey Baby (They’re Playing Our Song).

In an amusing segment of their show Giammarese talked about how in the summer of love, 1967, they were doing a Soundstage show. When they came on stage they saw that it was decorated with British flags. Because of their name they thought they were a British band! They showed video of the performance on the screen behind the stage and sure enough, it was true. They yelled out, “We’re Italians from the West Side of Chicago! Where’s the sausage and peppers?” They then went into Mercy, Mercy.

 

Giammarese then went on to introduce “our most recent top 10 single record, from 1968.” There was snickering from the audience. Kiddingly, he then said, “Alright, anyone who has had a top ten hit stand up!” Obviously, no one did. He then mentioned that this song originally debuted on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1968, Susan. He encouraged the audience to since along during the part, “I love you, yes I do, I do” which they did and he was holding the microphone to various members of the crowd who were singing their hearts out.

Nick Fortuna then said, “It’s my turn.” He dedicated the song to his fans and performed a cover of the hit by the Outsiders, Time Won’t Let Me. The crowd was also into this song, clapping and singing.

Giammarese then said, “We are going to leave you with the song that was a number one hit and knocked the Monkees off the number one spot, Kind of a Drag. It was a great version which led to a rousing standing ovation.

The Buckinghams sounded wonderful and Giamaresse did not seem to have lost anything from his voice. I was pretty impressed with the backing band, because as though there were no horns, and horns were a big part of the Buckinghams sound, you could not distinguish the keyboards from actual horns so they sounded fine.

Up next were the Grass Roots. Definitely mixed emotions here. I have to say they sounded great, just like the originals, but herein lies the problem. Rob Grill, the original lead singer had died in 2011, Dusty Hanvey, who played lead guitar, joined the band in 1984 (after their onslaught of hits) and Mark Dawson (a Chicagoarea native), who played bass and sang lead, was pretty young, so it really was not the original band, just a fine cover band. There is a large catalog of Grass Roots hits to select from and they picked some winners. They opened with Wait a Million Years, followed by Sooner or Later.

 

 

Then there was a bit of a surprise and definitely one of the highlights of the night. Dusty Hanvey introduced the next selection by saying, “The next song is for all you brave veterans out there and around the world. This is especially for theVietnam veterans, the only vets who came home without a heroes welcome. There is always a cost to freedom.” They then went into the Stephen Stills classic, “Find the Cost of Freedom.” It was beautifully sung. The audience was enraptured and erupted in a huge ovation at the completion of the song.

The ensuing song was Live for Today. When they got to the chorus, they encouraged the audience to chime in, “Help me count it out now, one, two, three, four, sha-la-la-la-la-la-la, live for today!” Dusty Hanvey then launched into an energetic guitar solo which was well-received by the crowd. The audience responded with a standing ovation. He then stated, “I wish this night would never end. Look around-see all the smiling faces all around. It must be the music!” And he was right.

The closing songs for their set were Temptation Eyes and Midnight Confessions, which was greeted by cheers when it began. The audience really got into this set and were singing on nearly every song. The band garnered another standing ovation and as they were walking offstage, Dusty said, “There ain’t no party like aWaukegan,Illinois party!”

The Grass Roots did give an outstanding, energized performance and the audience loved it. The lead singer did an admirable job and really did sound like the original vocalist. They were not original members, they carried the name, but they were different. But as I sat there the reality was sinking in to me….yes, we were reliving the sixties and all those wonderful memories the songs elicited, but things have changed. These guys have gotten older, many have died, and these bands are just not quite the same. I hated to be so morose, but I was staring reality right in the eyes.

Photo by Peter S. Sakas 

 

I was hoping to break out of my mental funk, especially when I knew Gary Puckett was coming up next. His voice never ceased to amaze me, his soaring vocals were something to behold, and I used to sing along to his music, badly, but I did sing my heart out. It always used to amaze me as the songs that he sang were about sordid subjects (Young Girl, Don’t Give In to Him, Lady Willpower, etc) but the way he sang them they were like a religious experience!

He came onstage and he looked terrific, fit and energetic. He opened with Lady Willpower and although he sounded “pretty good” he had lost his range. In fact, the more he sang, I was visualizing him as a lounge singer. Instead of holding the notes like he used to, he would go into a vibrato, which became a bit annoying. The more he was singing, the more my heart was breaking. The good news was that he was the consummate showman. He was trying to engage the audience, which he successfully did. He was very demonstrative when he was singing and really seemed to enjoy performing. The audience sang right along with him.

He followed with Over You, Don’t Give in to Him, This Girl is a Woman Now, and Woman, Woman. He mentioned that “You can hear the road in my voice tonight.” Probably trying to explain why he was not in such good voice this night and he realized it.

He then asked to have the houselights turned up. He also asked to have the spotlight taken off him, as he could not see the audience (and that spotlight was very bright so I know what he was talking about.) When it was turned off, he said, “Great, now I can see you now. If you are a veteran please stand up.” Several veterans were in attendance and did stand up. There was a fine round of applause. He continued with, “What I want to say to each and every one of you is that we should walk up to each of you and thank you. Because of you vets, it is why freedom lives. I want to honor you vets with this song.” He then proceeded to perform Home, a song about soldiers and their longing to return home. A very emotional song, an emotional moment and another highlight of the evening. Following a nice ovation he said that the veterans should visit his website, garypuckett.com and “click on an area for veterans, as there are benefits there for you that you need and deserve.”

He closed with Young Girl and the crowd was really into this song. He said, “Let’s sing this together!” In fact, Gary Puckett kept holding the microphone over the crowd as they were singing enthusiastically. He received a standing ovation as he walked offstage.

Sadly, mixed emotions again. I wanted to really love his performance, but his voice, his trademark, was not there tonight. He tried his best, really was trying to entertain and the audience responded, but the mental image of a lounge singer, a parody of himself just never left me.

 

After a short intermission, Mickey Dolenz came on stage. Well actually, he ran onstage. He was in black, wearing a hat, sunglasses, sneakers, and carrying a tambourine. He led off with I’m Not You Stepping Stone. Following the previous disappointment, I was so happy to see that Mickey Dolenz still had it. His voice sounded just fine, he was moving all over the stage, posing, mugging, gesturing, full of energy….like he was teleported from the sixties to right now. He was just like I remembered him. He continued with That Was Then, This Is Now, and She.

He then talked about the great stable of songwriters for the Monkees (and it was an impressive group), Neil Diamond, Neil Sedaka, Neil Armstrong (kiddingly he said he wrote “Blue Moon”), Carole King, David Gates, Carol Bayer Sager, and Boyce and Hart. He said Boyce and Hart produced the early records and were responsible for the Monkee’s sound. He said, “This is the one that started it all.” He then dove into Last Train for Clarksville. The audience all stood and began singing and dancing. They just loved him and his performance.

I was wondering if he was going to address the death of Davy Jones and he did. He talked about his passing and continued with, “it was quite a shock, he was a great guy, like a sibling, a brother to me. I would like to dedicate the next couple of songs to the late great Davy Jones.” He then sang two of Davy Jones’ hits, Daydream Believer and A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You. During these songs they projected images of Davy Jones with the Monkees on the video screen behind the stage. He sounded especially good singing these songs and the audience gave him a standing ovation.

He then said that he had released on album, “King for a Day,” which was a tribute to Carole King. He then performed a song from that album, Pleasant Valley Sunday.

Then in what was a very amusing moment he asked if there were any kids in the audience. Well, not many as this was an older crowd. He said, “I want all you little kids out there, if there are any, to know I sang this song before Shrek did!” Referencing the fact that at the end of the movie Shrek, the characters all sing the song, I’m a Believer.  He gave a rousing rendition, dancing all over the place, and it was like he never had aged. He was rewarded with a standing ovation, saying as he walked off stage, “Thank you,Waukegan!”

Mickey Dolenz gave the best performance of the night in my opinion. He was enthused, hyperkinetic, just like he was and obviously still is. He looked like he could walk right on to the set of the Monkees TV show from the sixties and not miss a beat. Great job.

 

The closing act was the other act I was eager to see. I had seen Flo and Eddie at Oakbrook Terrace Days over twentysomething years ago. They were humorous, but Eddie’s vocals just weren’t there. I had seen some youtube videos of them performing recently and he did not sound too bad.

As they are almost more into comedy than music, I did not know what to expect. Well, they did not disappoint as they came out in capes, dancing to Lady Gaga music. They were wearing wigs and the music almost seemed to morph into Israeli folk dancing. They then said, “What have they done to our music, man! It never used to sound like that. It used to sound like this” They then flowed right into She’d Rather Be with Me. Flo was dancing and beating on a cowbell. Eddie’s vocals were pretty good, but it seemed like they had sped up the tempo of the song. After the song, Flo was bouncing his drumsticks off the floor and trying to catch them….he finally succeeded after the third try.

They then went into an up tempo You Baby. During this song Flo was flipping tambourines around, he put one on his head like a crown and was dancing around and mugging for the crowd.

Eddie said, “we’re old, we’re in our sixties. We are dying before your eyes. It’s good to be here, actually at our age, it’s good to be anywhere when you’re sixty five.” They then (I believe kiddingly) told the audience that they were recording the next song so they wanted them to cheer loudly at the start, pretend we’re somebody you like and sing along. They introduced their cover of a Bob Dylan tune, It Ain’t Me Babe. They encouraged the crowd to sing along with the part “No, No, No” which they did the entire song. Flo was mugging around like crazy. He was encouraging loud cheering at the end of the song and then said, “OK, shut up, we got it.”

The band was then introduced. Flo then said he was going to do a song he wrote and it was a crazy bastardization of Doors lyrics. They then introduced the next song by saying that in 1969 they were surprised it was such a big hit, arranged by Sammy Cahn and Nelson Riddle (another joke), You Showed Me. Following that they yelled ZAPPA! and went into some crazed Frank Zappa music. (They had both been part of his band)

The next song was their big hit, Eleanor, which received a nice ovation. Eddie then said, “If you can stay near your seats for two minutes and forty eight seconds you will see something you’ve never seen.” He began singing Happy Together and the audience was standing, singing and dancing, enthusiastically singing along with the “Baa Baas” in the song. Flo yelled out, “It sounds like a Justin Bieber concert!” Eddie then began counting out, 45, 46, 47,48! and they began the finale.

 

The finale consisted of each band reprising their one of their big hits and remained on stage until all performers were present. The Buckinghams performed Kind of a Drag, the Grass Roots Midnight Confessions, Gary Puckett Young Girl, Eddie then led out Mickey Dolenz by the arm who was stooped over acting like an old man who then sang I’m a Believer, and then Flo and Eddie led everyone in Happy Together.

All in all, it was an entertaining evening and the crowd walked away happy. Sadly, one of my favorites, Gary Puckett, had an off night vocally, but he tried mightily to be entertaining. The Buckinghams were solid. The Grass Roots, though not the originals, did an admirable job recreating the classic hits. Mickey Dolenz was hands down the best of the evening. Flo and Eddie were definitely fun, but it almost seemed like the music was taking a back seat to the comedy. As I left the concert, I was nostalgic, in the true meaning of the word. Nostalgia comes from the Greek word meaning “return home” and it denotes “sentimental yearning.” I did have sentimental yearning for those days, but had the realization that you can never go home again. But for those magic moments in this concert when everything was working, I was back in that time once again.

Reviewed by Peter S. Sakas on 8/4/12

09th Aug2012

The Zombies Come To Life In Lincolnshire

by rockchicago

Photos by Jeremy Greenberg

 

The English Rock band “The Zombies” made the fourth stop of their short, two week 2012 American tour at Viper Alley in Lincolnshire on Tuesday. Promoting their 2011 CD release “Breathe Out, Breath In”, The Zombies packed the venue with the largest crowd I have seen there. They have a long time and loyal following that I really didn’t anticipate going in. Formed in 1961 in St Albany, Herts, England, the band has been performing on and off for more than 50 years. When offered the opportunity to attend the show, my expectations were not really all that great. A nice little 60’s band stopping by to play some old familiar AM radio tunes such as “Time of the Season and “She’s Not There” to name a few. Okay, sounds good.

 

Well, twenty-two songs and nearly two hours later, I have to say my expectations were exceeded tenfold. Founding member and lead singer Colin Blunstone was incredibly impressive. The sixty-seven year old vocalist sounds as good as he did fifty years ago, based on the old recordings that I’ve heard. His voice is still so powerful, that he could have gone without a microphone, and still would have been heard loud and clear. His stage presence was also very impressive. He was as cool as a cucumber, and at times even displayed the body English of a real zombie. And that is intended as a compliment. He just had a very cool way about him. The other remaining founding member, keyboardist and singer Rod Argent, was really the reason I was interested in seeing this show. I’m actually more familiar with Rod’s solo work in Argent, with tunes like “Hold Your Head Up”, which they played as well last night. Formed in 1968, and existing until 1976, Argent resurrected his self named band in 2010 after a 34 year layoff.  Argent, like Blunstone is still very much on top of his game.

 

The other three current members- former Kinks (1978-1996) and Argent bassist (1968-1976) Jim Rodford, Jim’s son Steve Rodford on drums, and the very capable Tom Toomey on guitar rounded out the quintet. It’s always a fun experience to go to see a band not expecting much, only to be totally amazed at how good they are. Last night qualified as just that. The Zombies are a very solid and tight performing band. Well rehearsed and very professional. When I go to a show knowing that I’m going to be writing a follow up of the performance, I tend to approach it as a reviewer, not a critic. There are enough of those out there. I hope be able to accentuate the positive, and convey what I enjoyed about it. If a given show turns out to be a dog, I’ll express that. But if it’s decent to outstanding, I’m going to focus on what I liked, not what I disliked. Last night, there was truly nothing I disliked about The Zombies performance. It was outstanding all the way around. Even the new songs from their latest disc were solid. They were enjoyable enough that I want to go buy the CD. That’s not always the case with bands whose heydays were in the 60’s or 70’s. Often times it’s “yeah, yeah, get to the old good stuff I came to hear”. Not the case at all last night. The three new songs they performed, including the title track “Breathe Out, Breathe In” were right in style with their original sound. I’m glad I was able to take in the rare opportunity to go see them perform.  After 51 years, there may not be many more chances.

Setlist from Viper Alley

 

  1. I Love You
  2. Can’t Nobody Love You
  3. Breathe Out, Breathe In
  4. I Want You Back Again
  5. Brokenhearted
  6. I Don’t Believe in Miracles
  7. Show Me the Way
  8. Any Other Way
  9. A Rose For Emily
  10. Care Of Cell 44
  11. This Will Be Our Year
  12. Beechwood Park
  13. I Want Her, She Wants Me
  14. Time Of The Season
  15. A Moment In Time
  16. Whenever You’re Ready
  17. Tell Her No
  18. Old And Wise
  19. Hold Your Head Up
  20. She’s Not There

Encores:

 

  1. Just Out Of Reach
  2. Summertime

 

Reviewed by Patrick Kinsella on 7/31/12

 

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