We have received a wonderfully informative review of Barry's solo concert at Hard Rock Live that took place on February 21, 2012:
With a serious attempt at being as objective and factual as possible
The Hard Rock Live venue sits 5,000 people. There were a few empty seats but brokers were selling them for well over 5-10 times their true value and in this economy I believe even some well off people hold to their budgets. Others may not have been able to make for one reason or another. I'm confident there were well over 4,000/4,200 people present. Fortunately I live just 15 minutes from the Hard Rock. Therefore travel was of no concern to me, another consideration for one's budget. My TRUE concern was getting value for my dollars. My concern grew tenfold during the weekend after watching a few videos that Barry posted on Facebook from the Love & Hope Ball. He looked jittery, hesitant, uncomfortable in many parts. He appeared to come off as so unsure of everything. Particularly where he spends so much time wiping his hands on the towel and his pant leg. A long time between stage appearances hurts performers, no matter who you are. It shows and some people, who don't wear rose-colored glasses, will definitely see it. I walked into Tuesday night with VERY low expectations. I was not expecting more than a 60 minute show. I was expecting little energy based on the L&H show. I expected the same retread songs. I expected the exact set list revealed on Saturday's performance. I was expecting a lot of old people making like they were just tired of sitting at home playing bridge/canasta/whatever and needed a night out.
Tuesday night was a mix of many emotions. Strolled into the concert hall and immediately noticed the disco ball hanging high above from the ceiling. My first thought was, "REALLY? How freakin' cheesy people." Barry strolled out at about 8:20pm. Watching Barry walk out on stage alone, a sight I've never witnessed in person before, was a bit disheartening. Hard to truly describe the actual feeling of seeing him and not the other brothers following him.
He started off with Jive Talkin'. Unable to hear his vocals but appeared the crew quickly noticed a problem and fixed the issue. Barry looked a little uneasy and sort of prodded the crowd to get into it. The crowd, of few empty seats, seemed a bit hesitant but eventually all stood and the energy level began to increase little by little. By the end of Lonely Days the energy was in full bloom. Barry seemed to realize we were all there for better or worse and I got the sense he finally started to relax and just let the music and energy flow. Pulled out a quick story of their dog (I forgot its name already) and meeting Linda and First Of May being dedicated to the dog. I guess one has to be a dog person to work with that.
Samantha did a splendid job on End Of The World (albeit was very brief) &Broken Heart. Left me wanting to hear more of her voice and see what she's really made of. Barry's falsetto was inconsistent when he tried to use it a couple of times on How Deep. Got another standing ovation after that song. Stephen ripped through On Time with a pair of solid guitar solos. I've never heard his voice before. For me, it was too heavy, deep and rough for a Maurice song. I guess it's an acquired taste. The staples came along and I went to sleep for a bit. He mentioned doing Sun In My Eyes and I woke back up, while I think others fell asleep. I think many didn't remember or weren't familiar with this song. Seemed like many people didn't even know it was over at the end. After Sun, I was thinking we need an up tempo song to get the crowd back into things. But he came up with a story about Walla Walla, some other things that were unintelligible at times. Spun into In The Morning/Morning Of My Life (whichever title you want to use). By now there was a lot of chatter around me. I'm looking around wondering if things have slowed down too much and feeling he's beginning to lose some audience. Hoping he'll pick it up quickly to bring these people back. Spicks And Specks did that with everyone clapping along. The piano was at times too loud which overrode his voice. I was hoping someone would fix that, but alas they did not. Then they broke into a song with Stephen doing the beginning that most seem to not know nor remember, myself included. My daughter even asked me what song it was and I had no idea. After the intro .... Every Christian Lion Hearted Man .... I was amazed to hear that! I woke right up stunned to hear something last played in concert, what? 40 years ago? It takes an awful lot to impress me and get me on your side. THAT was the point where he won my sorry, pessimistic ass won over for the rest of the night!! No matter what he played after that, in my mind going forward he couldn't fail.
He then went into a spiel about people he collaborated with, noting Diana Ross was playing a few nights later at the Hard Rock ... but he'll probably be in bed then. He mentioned he had a special guest and I was half expecting Diana or some other name player in town within the next week. He reeled out Beth Cohen, one of the backup singers. No idea who this was/is. Islands &Guilty were acceptable. Her voice isn't as light and smooth as Parton's or Streisand's. Not a terrible job ... just ..... we'll call it acceptable. Next came Words. Introduction/dedication made with comments about Linda standing around somewhere as she never likes to sit. Also the Hard Rock being her second home, so to speak. Then included his entire family, which keeps growing & growing, children, grandchildren, etc.. Injected some humor in his dialogue without trying to be overly funny. Crowd wouldn't let him finish Words. Gave him a 15 second standing O after the first pause, then another 10 second standing O after the second pause during which he eventually decided we weren't going to stop cheering so he'd have to finish it over us. Crowd finished Barry off with a 30 second standing ovation. Started to bring the energy back when he broke into Night Fever. The hard falsetto was a bit stronger by now. Not as inconsistent as earlier in the night. Soft falsetto was still not working well. My thinking was, Barry,please it's not happening so just pack that part in for the night. He then breezed into More Than A Woman ... with my daughter shaking her head. We just had dinner at Johnny Rockers and they played MTAW SIX times, one by Tavares, 5 by the Bros including FOUR STRAIGHT! By then both of us already had enough of that Woman. I'd still like to know who the hell played that so many times in the restaurant. Crowd gave Barry another long standing O after that pair of songs. By then I'd lost count of how many standing ovations we gave him. More than I expected but he deserved them. Barry proceeded into the dedication to his brothers, mentioning how close he was with Andy, the lovable character of Mo, Rob (as he called him multiple times) being really ill, praying for him, etc. .... what a bunch of characters he stated noting, "If you ONLY knew .... the things we've done." Then he sang Immortality. He said good night, thanked us for being there then left the stage after that.
Some of the crowd actually left. Right or wrong, I had the sense he wasn't done just yet and I had no intention of leaving. The quick exit was one telling sign. Of course knowing the set list from Saturday was another. You also could just feel he didn't want to leave right then. Two full minutes later he came back out to another standing O, acknowledged his daughter Ali and introduced all of the band members. Only name I recognized was when he thanked John Merchant for traveling to the show. They then played Stayin' Alive to conclude the concert. My daughter (the brat she can be but God I love her!) was quick to throw it in my face that he played for more than an hour. Didn't matter, I got a half hour extra and was thrilled. Of course I wanted more ... who in the crowd didn't?
Barry's interaction with the crowd throughout the evening was good and warming. Made him seem like he really cared to be on stage and appreciated us being there with him. I like that from a performer. If you're just going to say Hi once or twice and treat us like a meal ticket, you've lost my respect, I will NEVER see you in concert again and I will never buy ANY of your stuff. Treat us like we're special ... because without us you are and have nothing! Maybe I'm delusional but I feel Barry accomplished this and the mutual love for each other was there Tuesday evening.
Personally, I compare Tuesday night to Las Vegas ONO in 1997. At $300 per ticket for my wife and I, I've long felt ripped off, disappointed and robbed after that. Tuesday night, at 1/3 the cost, I felt that 15 years later I finally got my $300 performance, the missing ingredients of Mo & Robin notwithstanding. As critical as I've been in the past, I really have to give Barry his due for last night, he definitely earned it! I'd say, to quote someone else famous and funny but much less of a person... Barry was WINNING!! And he won big!
Can't say enough good things about last night and coming from me .... you know it had to be one helluva concert!
Thanks: Bill Busch...South Florida, U.S.A.
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