THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)
THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)
Saturday August 2nd, 2008
21st August, 2008 0
I didn't quite know what to expect with this "Hippiefest" concert when I plunked down close to $100 for two pavilion seats. It seemed a bit of a sham, as several of the performers were never quite identified with the Summer of Love in 1967.
Now, Eric Burden had solid Flower Power credentials, having written Monterey, San Franciscan Nights, and Sky Pilot right in the middle of the movement. Jack Bruce was certainly there, having spent 1966 through 1968 with the short-lived but incredibly influential Cream, a band whose ambitious fusion of rock, jazz and blues was influenced by psychedelics.
Melanie (Left) was a hippie princess who wrote songs too irresistible to be dismissed and her Lay Down (Candles in the Rain) is a bona fide Hippie-anthem. The other performers like Joey Molland of Badfinger and Terry Sylvester of the Hollies were never quite associated with that period at all - though they were both performing in the mid-to-late sixties.
This 22-date tour is produced by Toby Ludwig and Ron Hausfield for Flower Power Concerts. Initially the concert was conceived as an attempt to re-create the spirit of the sixties generation - a high concept indeed - and to promote social awareness.
And to think I thought they were just in it for the money.
The show opened on a good note with Joey Molland as the emcee looking and acting like a bloody Beatle, and I tell ya, he's no wanker. He's got charm and humor and he's a good dancer. Terry Sylvester opened the show. He's got the credentials, having been in several influential British bands including the Escorts, Swinging Blue Jeans and The Hollies. He started with Carrie Ann and proceeded to sing all those lovely Hollies hits - Bus Stop, He Ain't Heavy, and Long Cool Woman, ably accompanied by the fantastic Hippiefest band.
Who are these dudes? I thought Terry was just gonna sing those Graham Nash bits in the chorus while the band played through the verses with the audience singing from two nightmarish karaoke monitors positioned on either side of the stage. Silly me.
Molland was up next and did an admirable job trying to sound like Pete Ham and Tom Evans but bugger me and leave me bleeding, I'd have preferred that Joey do all HIS Badfinger songs 'cos they're so damn good. Songs like Constitution, Give it Up, Suitcase, Love is Gonna Come at Last, and Better Days. Joey is cool, no doubt.
Now Melanie - she's a different story - a bona fide earth-mother, child of the sun and she writes songs that will NOT leave you alone - some even became commercials that sold everything from fruit juice to automobiles and everything in between. You probably know them all - What Have they Done to My Song, Beautiful People, Brand New Key. And though she mentioned it about a half dozen times, Melanie never sang her Hippie-anthem. DAMN HER. But she sang well and gave us a good vibe. I know because I sat in the second row, up close and personal, and she laid them vibes all over me. I was drenched in 'em.
I was looking forward to hearing Jack Bruce again. The only other time was in a Ringo All-Starr Show. I was hoping he could stretch out a little more, despite the limitations of this format. In 2003, Jack was diagnosed with liver cancer and almost died due to complications with the transplant operation. Today he is much thinner and appears a bit fragile, looking more like Ginger Baker than Jack Bruce. But my lord, Bruce rocked his ass off. The Hippiefest band clearly enjoyed playing such timeless and progressive music, grinning ear-to-ear and playing like their life depended on it.
He opened with an acoustic As You Said and then battered us senseless with Sunshine of Your Love, Sitting On Top of The World, I Feel Free, We're Going Wrong and a magnificent White Room. The crowd responded enthusiastically. He brought us all back there, back when the music sounded so new and progressive.
Bruce prepared us for something very special - a powerhouse performance by the legendary Eric Burdon and his new Animals (right), which includes an old Animal, guitarist Hilton Valentine, lookin' really cool like the New York Dolls bass player Arthur "Killer" Kane with a Beatles' haircut.
The band was hot and played flawlessly. The rhythm section was tight as a vise and the harmonies were glorious. Burdon was in fine voice and his nuanced vocals were reined-in just enough to embellish the messageŠit was quite a message. They opened with When I Was Young. The tempo was slowed down just a bit and Burdon hit all the notes with his unique phrasing, accents and articulation. He can squeeze them notes until they holler for help.
Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood had an updated reggae arrangement that suited the song quite well; the violinist added a nice flavor. Sky Pilot was simply wondrous. Burdon sang well, the harmonies were spot-on and the message came across loud and clear. And the soldier remembered the wordsŠ Thou Shall Not Kill A Masterpiece!
It's My Life was a heavy rockin' tour-de-force, sung soulfully by Burdon with a powerful fist-in-the-air chorus. When Burdon sings I ain't no saint, believe it, brother. Let's join him, let's join the real world!
The final song was his career defining anthem, The House of the Rising Sun. It included some obscure lyrics not on the original recording. It seemed to be a very emotionally laden tribute. Burdon was there. He discovered its existence in New Orleans and found it to be a place of beauty and peace. But it's lost now, a victim to Katrina, which came through his voice in the song.
Following two fantastic encores - the hard-rockin' Paint it Black with Burdon's plea to "Pray for Peace" and John Lee Hooker blues rocker Boom Boom Boom - I was backstage looking for my hero. I was gonna ask him about his latest CD Soul of a Man. I just bought it and gave it a quick listen and it sounded great. I loved his autobiography and wanted to talk a little more about the eggmen, the success of the Spill the Wine video on MTV's Psychedelic Lunch and the story he told of a fresh-faced photographer he met in New York in 1966. Her name was Linda Eastman. They would link their arms, open their minds and take on the world. He wrote a song about it entitled Everyone of Us:
Brown girl from the Bronx showed me her home
She took me there time and time again
Love was our sweet summer's game
And when I got to America
I say it blew my mind
Ultimately, I checked out and went back home, tired and happy. I finally got an opportunity to pay witness to one of the rock & roll's greatest voices, a voice that is at once spiritual and sensual - an extraordinary presence.
We need him.
Check out his new website @ ericburdon.com
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THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)