Houston Abbey Road review from a Who fan

Review by Alan McKendree (Switch to

Houston Arena, an in-the-round theatre with a rotating stage, capacity ~1,500, about 3/4 full. John, Steve, Godfrey, Ann Wilson, Todd Rundgren, Alan Parsons, David Pack (Ambrosia), John Beck (Alan Parsons' keyboardist). Alan's guitarist, Ben Margulies, didn't play, presumably because the stage was too small to accomodate all 9 musicians and their gear. I didn't miss him.

I have to put in somewhere, and here's the place, that Godfrey is the surprise star of this little effort. He's doing many or most of the fills that we all know and expect...as he said, he's the guy who went over the vinyl releases 30 years ago and worked them all out note by note. Plus, he plays keyboards. Check in on him from time to time and see how hard he's working up there.

The opening arrangement of Magical Mystery Tour is great...majestic descending chords, reminiscent of the opening overture of the DST '94 shows, but much shorter, proceeding quickly to absolutely soaring harmonic vocals: "Roll up..." David *nails* the difficult high notes, "That's an INvitation, to make a REServation."

Open My Eyes -- with its I Can't Explain opening, a good opener to give Todd a rocking start

Eye in the Sky -- good version, not really my cup of tea. David, lead vocals.

Crazy On You -- interesting version with JAE's buzzsaw bass underscoring. Ann Wilson's first vocal lead, and she's top of her game, hitting notes with accuracy, grace, and the power to cut glass when needed.

My Wife -- JAE introduces Steve & Godfrey. After a long, anticipatory musical intro, the JEB and sidemen swing into it. All the rock this audience came expecting to get, but not all that the JEB can unleash when playing on its own terms.

Hello It's Me -- an odd one to follow My Wife with, but a crowd-pleaser. Todd works the crowd, singing directly to individuals and walking offstage to them, accepting kisses in some cases. After Todd lets a girl kiss him, a guy next to her stands up and plants a big one on his cheek (still during the song), which amuses everyone including Todd and the security cops.

Don't Answer Me -- Didn't know this song before...very sweet, poignant ballad.

You're the Biggest Part of Me (?) -- an Ambrosia song, D Pack again on lead vocals. "Make a wish, I'll make it come true..." Bee-Gees-like vocals...again not my thing, but the chicks dug it.

How Much I Feel -- squeals of delight from certain audience members. Another Ambrosia number I believe. John and Steve are usually offstage for this one and the one preceding, but due to the rotating stage they couldn't leave. Although initially quiet, John got bored and started slapping his strings lightly just to add a rhythm, with the volume turned up just enough to be audible.

Bang the Drum -- Todd: "Is there anyone left in Houston whose life has NOT been touched by tragedy? Well, this is for the rest of you." Goofy, fun, Todd jumping around beating with two sticks on a single snare brought out to his mike just for the song.

The Real Me -- without preliminary ado, Godfrey kicks it off: "Can you see the real me..." The JEB's best chance to shine -- they do the tempo increase at the end to squeeze the most out of it, and the audience responds, standing and cheering at the end, with many "We're not worthy" waves.

Dreamboat Annie -- after The Real Me? also odd, but that's what they did. Ann solo, with a few percussion instruments behind. Beautiful version, with backing harmonies from Godfrey & David. At the end, Ann picks up a flute for the closing phrases as on the album.

Games People Play -- another "Projectile", as Alan Parsons introduces it. Heavy, ominous, menacing, with all those musicians pounding away at the minor key.

Barracuda -- Todd starts off the chugging introduction, although Godfrey takes care of the fills within the number. John helps, but this is Ann's full-rock jewel in the show, spot on the high notes, wailing and in full control of the decibels from the friends behind her, generating another deserved standing O. The instant after the applause peaks, they slam into

My Generation -- Todd on lead vocals, and John's rapturously received soloes inspire Todd to throw in a scissorkick or two, and windmill at almost full speed at the ending rave-up.


Back in the USSR

Lady Madonna -- Todd lead vocal if memory serves.

I'm Down -- Ann lead vocal, a wild raveup version

Fool on the Hill -- David lead vocals, Ann and Alan on flute, and Alan on a green plastic...genuine penny-whistle (?) at the appropriate points.

Todd spills a beer on Ann's onstage table "For crimes against humanity, I confess my sins, I did spill the beer...the holy sacrament, the wheat-flavored vitamin drink." Ann: "Don't worry, we women will clean it up, it keeps us busy eh?" Godfrey vamps jazz chords while the paper towels appear and disappear.

While My Guitar Gently Weeps -- didn't care for this one so much in earlier shows, now I like it a lot. Todd's vocals strong, John's HEAVY descending minor bassline just chills me. Beautiful wailing soloes by Todd and/or David (heck, probably Godfrey too).

Here Comes the Sun -- Godfrey's solo turn, lead guitar and vocals. In contrast to his Real Me raspy voice, he sounds more tha a little like Lennon, a smooth clear voice. Gorgeous backing harmonies on "sun sun sun, here he comes".

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds

Hide Your Love Away -- Todd solo on acoustic. My favorite of his numbers, intense and heartfelt

Maybe I'm Amazed -- Ann on lead vocals, Godfrey on keyboards. Not a personal favorite, and requiring some lyrics juggling due to the gender switch of the singer (e.g., "I'm the only woman who could ever help you...") that I'm not quite sure work. A strong performance, nevertheless, those who favor the song shouldn't be disappointed.

Rain -- one of my favorites of the Beatles set, getting a beautiful addition with John's bass lines. My apologies to Sir Paul, but if he played these notes I never heard them. It sounds to me like John's creating a bass lead line a la The Real Me under the chord changes. I can't get enough of it. Todd lead vocals, grinding, hoarse and powerful.

Blackbird -- Alan Parsons solo on acoustic, no backing anything. It's improving as the shows progress.

Me and My Monkey -- John flying along underneath with 16th-note runs. David tearing up the lead vocals Extended drum and then bass solo at the end to finish it off (new since the Saratoga shows).

Revolution -- screams of delight from the audience. Lots of old folks who were there in the day getting up and grooving. Lead vocals -- who else, Todd.

Day Tripper

Ticket to Ride

I Want to Hold Your Hand

Hey Jude -- Ann on lead, audience singalong at the end natch

- --Encores--

Birthday -- full marks, lots of fun, audience all on their feet

Golden Slumbers/The Weight/The End (what else?) -- I teared up, I admit it.

Bottom line -- this is a rare opportunity to see an amazing collection of talented people hosting a party for you and loving it. Go, share it with them and have a great time.

Other reviews for A Walk Down Abbey Road
6/26/2001 - Houston Arena Theatre - Houston, TX

Other reviews for overall A Walk Down Abbey Road

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