"Golden Slumbers fill your eyes…
Smiles awake you when you rise.
Sleep pretty darling do not cry…
And I will sing a lullaby."
One day after witnessing the Phoenix stop on this Madrigal History Tour… here are my observations, thoughts and feelings.
On one level, this was an amazing concert to experience… in other respects; it was somewhat empty and sad. Don’t get me wrong… this line-up (and their supporting cast) had the chops, pedigree and versatility to pull-off this Concert Oddity. The range of material, the lush lead vocals and harmonies theoretically should produce a fulfilling Walk Down Abbey Road.
There were plenty of high-points throughout the show…
Ann Wilson’s voice was in amazing form (as has been consistently reported since this tour began). Godfrey Townsend was a versatile guitarist and played flawless (digitally sampled) piano during "Maybe I’m Amazed". The session keyboardist and drummer were excellent and completely up to the task of supporting the broad spectrum of musical styles and arrangements that were demanded of them. David Pack (the lead singer/multi-instrumentalist from Ambrosia) was a much better guitarist than I ever realized and his vocals were consistent and versatile throughout evening. This was even more impressive given the wide range of songs (and harmonies) he was asked to cover. John Entwistle was very fluid on bass (just like the other 4-5 times I’ve seen him with the Who (over the past 25 years). He was his usual lifeless self with (seemingly) all of him energy concentrated through his fluid fingers. He does have a detached "Ringoesque" quality about him. Although he is a much more accomplished master of his instrument (bass) than Ringo will ever be. Not surprisingly, Todd easily maintained the most charismatic presence on the rotating stage (this show was performed in the round). During Hello it’s me" Todd straddled the narrow circular outermost ridge (maybe 2 _ feet in width) of the round stage and really worked the crowd (to rousing cheers). "Bang on the drum" was as goofy as ever and "Open my eyes" was fun to hear with a big supporting band behind Todd.
Another nice surprise was meeting Scott Harvey, creator of the TRBazaar.com web site and fellow BeyondAwizard member, who was nice enough to stop by (where my fiancée, my friends and I were seated) and introduced himself. Unfortunately, the second set was starting, so we really didn’t have a chance to talk for very long.
I would have to agree with Scott Harvey’s assessment. While all of the players covered the Beatles tunes beautifully… the end result was kind of like consuming an artificial sweetener… the aftertaste was somewhat less than satisfying. A line-up with this much talent, versatility and wonderful original music catalogs (albeit for a Beatles Tribute Tour) would have no problem supporting one another’s material well beyond the (three songs apiece) first set format.
I would have loved to hear this band back up TR on any of the following: "Change Myself", "Love Is The Answer", "Real Man", "Can We Still Be Friends", "The Want Of A Nail", "I Saw The Light", "We Gotta Get You A Woman" or dozens of other Rundgren ditties (I realize that the more progressive TR material would be too much to hope for in this kind of multi-artist concert structure).
The same goes for the wide range of potential Who gems: "Baba O'Riley", "Who Are You", "Behind Blue Eyes", ‘Won't Get Fooled Again", "I Can See For Miles", "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere", "I'm Free" or any number of other of other "well-known" Who classics.
"Heart" Material that would work well in this context would include: "Magic Man", "What About Love?", "Never", "All I Want to Do Is Make Love to You", "Straight On", "Strong, Strong Wind" and others.
Alan Parsons Project material: "I Wouldn't Want to Be Like You", "Time", "Inside Looking Out", "Psychobabble", "Eagle Will Rise Again", "Voyager" and many other possibilities.
As For Ambrosia material for Davis Pack… to perform… sure he could pick out another ditty or two… but he would have plenty of spotlight time singing a large number of Who and Parsons songs.
Initially, I did enjoy hearing the Beatles material performed by Todd and his other all-star band mates… "Fool On The Hill" was beautifully executed… Hearing Todd perform "Rain", "Lady Madonna" and "Revolution" were highlights for me and (I’m sure) other TR fans…but still it falls way short of hearing Todd backed-up by a FULL line-up of talented musicians delivering material he performed in years.
I have no regrets about attending this show… but it could have been so much better.
I’ve attached the three digital photos from the concert that my fiancée (Karen Fox) took during the Beatles (2nd) Set (along with a shot she took of me clutching my "Walk Down Abbey Road" Tour Shirt in the parking lot right after the show ended). She went out the car at intermission to attempt to sneak in a few shots (security was ridiculously tight in terms of taking any photographs).