Walk Down Abbey Road at the Washington Township Performing Arts Center

Review by Frank C. Branchini (Switch to
)
7/29/2001

The Performing Arts Center is a high school auditorium. They didnít make high school auditoriums like this when I was in school. It is a really nice facility, seating 2,500. We have great seats, seventh row, way over on the side, but with an excellent view of every one on stage except for John Entwisle. There video screens at each end of the stage where videos were shown to accompany the songs.

The show starts just about right on time. The stage is full of performers (most of whom I do not recognize): Alan Parsons (Alan Parsons Project), Ann Wilson (Heart), Todd Rundgren, John Entwistle (The Who), and David Pack (Ambrosia). Rounding out the ensemble are three members of Entwistleís backing band: Godfrey Townshend on guitar and keyboards, Steve Luongo on drums, and John Beck on keyboards.

They open with "Magical Mystery Tour" with David Pack and Ann Wilson on lead vocals.

There are many Todd Rundgren fans in the audience and "Open My Eyes" receives an excellent response from the crowd.

"Eye In The Sky" must be an Alan Parsons song? David Pack sings lead.

"Crazy On You" is a real crowd pleaser. Ann Wilson looks like Roseann and is wearing ridiculous bell bottoms which makes it look like she is wearing flippers but she still has a great voice and she can really wail. She is the Heart of this show. Every time she takes the lead, it is stunning.

John Entwistle performs "My Wife". The vocals on this one are very shaky. I can well understand why this is the only song on which he sings during the evening.

This is followed by Todd Rundgrenís "Hello Its Me". Its a great song, but Rundgren plays with melody in a way that was supremely disappointing. This is the only truly disappointing performance of the entire evening.

This is followed by three light-rock songs with David Pack on lead that are softer, more acoustic material (the Ambrosia songs I presume?). Following the last ballad, Rundgren announces that he will do a "mood breaker" and launches into "Bang The Drum". This one of the most infectious songs ever written. I am astounded that much of the audience remains in their seats. What a great song to hear on a mid-summer Friday night.

The unquestionable high point of the evening" is Godfrey Townshend singing the lead on "The Real Me". Absolutely stunning. This guy is THE BEST!!! I saw the Who last summer (front row seats) and nothing they performed that evening was as good as this!!!

"Barracuda" gives Ann Wilson another chance to shine.

The first half of the show concludes with a great ensemble version of "My Generation".

The second half of the show begins with David Pack singing lead on "Back In The USSR" and Todd Rundgren singing lead on "Lady Madonna". Ann Wilson does a stunning version of "Iím Down" and the show really takes off from there. "Fool On The Hill" features stunning flute and recorder work by Ann Wilson and Alan Parsons. What a treat to hear this done on real flutes and not synthesizers. One gets so used to synthesizers that one tends to forget how much better "real instruments sound.

The show is being recorded and there is a false start on "While My Guitar Gentle Weeps". Todd Rundgren stops and asks the band to start over. They do. The audience responds even more enthusiastically the second time. Rundgrenís vocal guitar work on this one are blistering.

"Here Comes The Sun" is my absolute favorite George song and one of those songs that always lifts my mood. The background visuals for this one are particularly nice. I seem to like this one better than any one else in the audience.

"Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" is a great performance of a great song.

Todd Rundgren solos on "Youíve Got To Hide Your Love Away". This is another stunning performance.

Ann Wilson takes the lead on "Maybe Iím Amazed". She flubs the lyrics early and stops and restarts the song. This is my favorite Paul song and Wilsonís version is fantastic.

Todd Rundgren takes the lead for "Rain", another favorite of mine. Very exciting performance.

Alan Parsons does a solo turn (his only lead vocal for the evening) on a nice version of "Blackbird"

Ann Wilson and David Pack share the leads on "Everybodyís Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey". This is where the excitement level takes off. What a great song to perform live. I wonder why we donít hear this one very often.

This is followed by "Revolution" (Rundgren on lead vocal), "Day Tripper" (Rundgren and Peck on lead vocals), and "I Want To Hold Your Hand" (Rundgren and Pack on vocals). On "Ticket To Ride" the entire audience is loudly singing along. Live shows donít get any better than this.

The finale is "Hey Jude" with Ann Wilson on lead vocal. Can I say Iíve gotten tired of Jude. It is the one Beatles song that gets over-played that Iíve gotten tired of hearing it.

The encores are "Birthday" and "Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End". The band take their bows. The audience is enthusiastic.

This was an astoundingly good show, lots of fun, worth a three hour drive! While every one in this ensemble is outstanding, the stars are clearly Ann Wilson and Todd Rundgren. The big surprise is Godfrey Townshend. I enjoyed the background visuals. Some were cheesy, but†many were extremely well done, and all of it was entertaining. The pacing of this show is excellent. The second half of the show peaked early and just built and built and built on that peak.

Rundgrenís clowning around†was distracting and John Beckís idiotic posturing behind the other performers was extremely annoying. Beck appeared to be bored and he was disrespectful to the outstanding performers in this show. If I were in charge, I would fire him. Thanks again to Vineet Kochhar and Anne Mardis for offering the tickets. Iím just sorry Vineet missed this one. You would have loved it! I canít wait for the recording.


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7/27/2001 - Center for Performing Arts - Sewell, NJ

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