Friday, August 13, 2004

Rock & Soul Revue - PNC Bank Arts Center, Holmdel, NJ, 7/09/04

Here's my review and setlist as posted on the AWB website.

Garden State Arts Center - Holmdel, NJ - Review
Posted By: William Kates
Date: Saturday, 10 July 2004, at 2:40 p.m.

I can't believe I almost passed on the Rock 'N' Soul 2004 Revue tour, having seen AWB so many times and what with the ticket price and opening act placement I wasn't going to bother, but after reading all the accounts on this board, the prospect of Fred V playing with Michael McDonald's band and the show ending jam session gave me another thought, so yesterday I drove up to north Jersey and bought a ticket at the door and I am so glad I did.

It was a perfect night, clear, warm but not hot or humid. The venue was beautiful too, very much like the Mann Music Center in Philadelphia and other roofed/open air facilities. The venue's only drawback was the lame food concession. The show was fantastic.

AWB came on at 6:30pm on the dime and began their forty minute set with maybe ten percent of the seats occupied; the crowd gradually filled in during the performance. It was a well constructed set, and I think the enthusiasm of the AWB contingent in the audience was infectious as more and more of the crowd got into it as the set progressed. There was partial standing ovation when they finished, but no encore - actually there were no encores after any of the sets, including the finale - must've been how the show was structured. My only possible criticism of the production is that each of the three artists have a achieved a level of stature that should have allowed each to have an equal length set, say an hour each. It seems to me that only by the yardstick of sales volume/number of hit singles would AWB merit the shorter opening slot; AWB surpasses McDonald and H&O in every other artistic or musical category in my admittedly biased view.

Michael McDonald took the stage precisely at 7:30pm for his sixty-five minute set which was loaded with a mixture of his Doobie Brothers hits and the classic Motown material he covered on his latest album. His set was enjoyable and it was great to hear Freddie V on sax all through the set, and McDonald's voice can be wonderfully soulful. My only hangup which I've mentioned on here before, is that with great tools like McDonald has, I totally don't get choosing to do such obvious (safe) material like the greatest hits of Motown. I'm sure he loves the music, we all do, it just seems like he's appropriating this material somehow and it's not like his repertoire was not already high enough octane with all the Doobies hits, so I still don't get it. Great performance though.

I probably haven't seen Hall & Oates in concert since the 80's so it was great to see them again. Their last album, Do It For Love was a real return to form I thought, reminding me of my favorite style of theirs that they perfected all the way back on their second album, Abandoned Luncheonette. Their sixty-five minute set kicked off at 8:50pm and it was a really nice mix of new and old material concentrating on their hits. It was great to see Elliot Lewis on keyboards and vocals in H&O's band. While I think Klyde is totally superb in AWB, it seems to me that Elliot was somewhat under-appreciated during his tenure - he gave his all for a good many years as a member of AWB.

It only took a couple of minutes to gather everyone back on stage for the finale, which was worth the price of admission all by itself. To hear these great familiar voices all singing each other's songs was just priceless. The construction of the arrangements where the various singers take turns each doing a verse was really well done. It was all the members from all the bands minus the two sax men and Onnie for the first few numbers. Then the saxes came out for the next to last number and Onnie finally came out to help sing the final song. The degree to which these artists set their egos aside to work together on this show was just wonderful - it was a truly memorable end to a night of great music all around.

***SPOILER ALERT*** If you're planning on seeing this show and you want to be surprised, do not read the setlist which follows.

AWB:
The Jugglers - Nice organ solo by Klyde with the keyboard set to sound like the classic Hammond B-3. Fred also took a nice solo.
Got the Love - Nice Onnie solo.
Walk on By
Cut the Cake - Smokin' hot version with Klyde on bass, double guitars by Alan & Onnie with hot sax by Fred.
Cloudy - Klyde absolutely killed; started with Fred on electric piano, super soulful, great backup vocals by Alan, Onnie & Fred.
In the Beginning
Person to Person
Pick Up the Pieces - The texture of the two sax arrangement was neat and it was great to have Charles DeChant from Hall & Oates band sit in for this song and he looked amazing with his long pony tail and pinkish purple suit, but it seemed that he was not in the same league ability-wise as our sax man. A great set closer, had many of the crowd dancing in their seats.

Michael McDonald:
It Keeps You Runnin' - Sounding great w/Fred V.
Sweet Freedom - Dedicated to Gregory Hines, included some nice soloing by guitarist Bernie Chiavaralle and Hammond B-3 organist Pat Coyle.
I Keep Forgettin'
You Are Everything - Nice vocal but MM is no Russell Thompkins Jr.
Ain't No Love - New song written by MM & Chiavarelle.
I Heard it through the Grapevine - Sounding very Doobie-ish.
All in Love is Fair - Nice version of the Stevie Wonder song.
You Belong to Me - Nice Freddie solo, Carly Simon did a great version of this.
Minute by Minute - It occurred to me during this song that McDonald kind of softened up the Doobies and made them mass market; one could say that he single-handedly paved the way for smooth jazz.
Ain't No Mountain High Enough
Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing - As this ended, I was thinking that he really should've gone into Ain't No Woman Like the One I've Got for an "Ain't No" triple play, but next up was a solo electric piano segment that led into a Hammond B-3 intro (half expecting Chest Fever) that led into a tasty band instrumental intro that led finally into
Takin' It to the Streets - And the crowd went nuts. Go Freddie!

Hall & Oates:
Out of Touch - Daryl commented after the song that it was good to be back in the northeast after a tour swing through the south, that this venue felt like home as they've played here so many times and that to them it will always be the "Garden State Arts Center" (now the "PNC Bank Arts Center") - the crowd loved it.
Say It Isn't So
Do It For Love
She's Gone - Beautifully unhurried and soulful version.
Cab Driver - From Hall's latest solo album, track co-written by Alan Gorrie.
Sara Smile - The crowd now in the palm of their hand.
I Can't Go For That (No Can Do) - Started with a cool jazzy flute intro, nice guitar and sax solos. The venue video screen kept showing someone holding up a car license plate NOCANDU.
Maneater
You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling - Powerful version.

Finale:
Work to Do - Awesome version with Alan leading and trading vocals with MM & H&O.
Kiss on My List - The Hall & Oates classic.
What a Fool Believes - The Michael McDonald standard.
Since I Lost My Baby - The Temptations song on MM's Motown CD.
You Make My Dreams Come True - The H&O song, brought the saxes back on stage.
Hot Fun in the Summertime - The Sly & Family Stone classic was the perfect set ender with everyone onstage including Onnie. Wow.

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