Oakdale Show

Review by Sammy Goldstein (Switch to

There's a multitude of comments on the songlist previously so I will skip ahead to the performance. The best of the show has to be Anne Wilson with a great vocal and emotional presence. She was the first to really connect with the entire audience. Todd, of course, was great and played the show's court jester but I think Anne took the show. When she sang she owned the stage. In Todd's defense he suffered a bad mike through his second song. Ever the pro Todd recovered just fine grabbing another mike to finish off the song to a thunderous applause. Dave Pack was surprisingly much better than his own stuff let him be. His Ambrosia songs were a bit too laid back and sappy for the rest of the song list but he was a good addition to the rest of the show playing with enthusiasm.

John Entwhistle gave an amazing demonstration of what can be done with a bass guitar. Unlike most bass players John doesn't just strum away in the rhythm section. He played his bass out front with a fluidness that is rarely seen on bass. Boy he can play! He also had a bit of equipment trouble early on. Was there a sound check? Alan Parson was demonstrably shy but his appearance gave the opportunity for his songs to be heard again live. His "Blackbird" version could have been skipped. I would have preferred a second acoustic Beatle's solo from Todd as he did a phenomenal job on "Hide Your Love Away."

I don't know if you could call the additional musicians (the drummer, keyboardist, and guitarist) backups as they were an integral part of the show taking many leads and carrying some whole songs musically. I would have loved an additional encore of Ann doing more of her own stuff or even some Janis. She could probably really belt out the blues like Joplin did. It would be great to see Ann doing a tour of old blues numbers. I also could have heard a whole show of Todd's songs but I guess a sampling is better than none.

The show reminded me of the old fifty and sixties traveling greatest hits tours where artists played for some fifteen minutes at a time usually using the same band for the whole show. Each of the key players here were given their fifteen minutes of fame, did their top pop songs, and were off. While they helped back up each other the show did not give the players enough time to shine or to really express their abilities. For the most part the songs were played note for note like the record but with lots of gusto.

The second part of the show moved rapidly. Aside from Ann and, of course, Todd there was little between song interaction with the audience. The audience was a bit lame as it had to be dragged from their seats by Ann late in the first set. They also fell through the gap when the band gave it a chance to solo on the chorus of Hey Jude. The audience acted like the song ended and failed to show the band that the audience was on the same wavelength. Mind you it was a killer cut-off of the song had it ended there anyway. Instead you could see the disappointment in the band for the audience's lack of commitment to the show. A reason for the audience reaction could have been that throughout the show the sound system was really muddy. I overheard a number of comments after the show to that effect as people left. Putting that many players through a house speaker system took its toll on the sound. The band did not have all that many of their own speakers to add support. I've seen a bunch of musicians play at the Oakdale along with a couple of plays and until tonight the sound was usually great so I guess I would put the sound problem on the band for touring without the needed equipment.

If you have a chance to catch this show before it ends its American leg don't hesitate. The band really cared for the music showing an excitement throughout. The band seemed used to playing together by this point in the tour and seemed to play with more confidence than earlier tour date commentators wrote. The music sheets did not come out so often as happened with the early shows in the tour.

All in all the show is well worth seeing. It suffers from the same thing all these "gathering of musicians" shows do: a shortness of substance as the group is too busy switching musical styles amongst themselves to build momentum. The second set let the band build a show but the audience wasn't having it as much as the band wanted to give. A good deal of the audience had gone before the show ended and like cattle the rest dutifully turned away with the lights coming up. What happened to the days when bands were called back over and over.

I had tried to stay around after the show to get a cd signed by Todd but the staff at the Oakdale were not letting anyone without a backstage pass hang around. This is typical at the Oakdale which is a bit too corporate style for its own good. The Oakdale also sold drinks in the lobby throughout the show which had audience members hopping up and down constantly for refills taking away from the show. The band was trying to grab the audience with people all over the auditorium busy traipsing in and out tripping over the crowd. Truthfully it seemed to be the same people were running back and forth so the Oakdale could easily stop service during the set or only let people in between songs. That would mean they lose a few cents so I don't expect to see a change, unless something tragic happened to a patron after leaving a show drunk. Corporate thinking at its best.

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7/22/2001 - Oakdale Theatre - Hartford, CT

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