Abbey Road @ Westbury Music Fair

Review by David Abolafia (Switch to

I've been to a lot of concerts (having previously worked as a music critic), so very little surprises me on stage these days. Therefore, I am pleased to report that the "Walk Down Abbey Road" show, which I caught at Westbury Music Fair on Long Island, was indeed a surprise... in more ways than one. First of all, let's cut to the chase. The music was great. From the opening number ("Magical Mystery Tour") to the end of the encore (fittingly, "The End"), this all-star line-up -- Alan Parsons, Todd Rundgren, Ann Wilson, John Entwistle and David Pack, plus Live Project keyboardist John Beck and John Entwistle Band guitarist Godfrey Townsend and drummer Steve Luongo -- rocked out like it was still 1968. Surprise #1: How great and cohesive this seemingly disparate group sounded. When I first heard about this tour, I wasn't sure how they'd all fit together, but Rundgren and Pack ably swapped vocals and guitar licks, with Wilson frequently stepping in to kick things up a notch. Both Luongo and Townsend added a power punch, while Beck's haunting falsetto (and alien stage persona) lent just the right "1984" touch to "Eye in the Sky." Surprise #2: Seeing Ann Wilson head-banging during the solos on "Games People Play." Never expected to see ANYONE head-bang to an APP song. Surprise #3, the emotional highpoint (for me): Alan himself, solo on stage, plucking an acoustic guitar and singing -- yes, he sings! -- "Blackbird." Did he acquit himself? After the song, my wife (whom I'd previously told that Alan generally sings backup, if at all) turned to me and asked, "Why doesn't he sing LEAD vocal?" Sweet and pure, Alan's rendition of the tune gave me a chill, reminding me of the first time I'd ever heard it. The first part of the show was a sort of greatest hits package from the various artists, with roughly three numbers each from the catalogs of the Project ("Sirius/Eye in the Sky", "Don't Answer Me", "Games People Play" -- all with Pack on lead vocal), the Who ("My Wife", "Can You See the Real Me?", "My Generation"), Heart ("Barracuda", "Crazy On You", "Dreamboat Annie") and Rundgren ("Open My Eyes", "Hello It's Me", "Bang the Drum All Day"), plus a pair of Ambrosia tracks ("You're the Biggest Part of Me" and "How Much I Feel"). Rather than strutting their stuff solo, each of the artists was more-than-ably backed by their cohorts, all of whom showed a true appreciation and fondness for each other's music. After the intermission came a literal deluge of Beatles hits ("Back in the USSR", "Day Tripper", "Revolution", etc.) and oddities ("Rain", "Everybody's Got Something to Hide"). Wilson blew the doors off "I'm Down" and threw a ton of passion behind "Maybe I'm Amazed." For the most part, Pack stood in for Paul McCartney, while Rundgren handled John Lennon's vocals. Townsend gave a touching read of "Here Comes the Sun" and the whole crew came together for the closing with "Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight". Too bad I caught this toward the end of the tour. It's something everybody -- not just Parsons or Rundgren fans -- should see, hear and love.

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7/19/2001 - Westbury Music Fair - Westbury, NY

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