Monday, January 06, 2014

Review Rewind: Nothing dated about Everly Brothers

My review of the Everly Brothers originally ran in the print edition of The Orange County Register on July 21, 1992. One of my most memorable concert experiences of the early 1990s, I wanted to re-post this review in the wake of the death of Phil Everly over the weekend... 

LAST NIGHT Nothing dated about Everly Brothers

Who: The Everly Brothers 
Where: Arlington Theatre, Orange County Fair, Costa Mesa 
Background: Phil and Don Everly performed their hits.

Don and Phil Everly have been making beautiful music together for 35 years. Has it really been that long?

It didn't sound like it on Monday night (July 20, 1992), when the Everly Brothers played to a packed house at the Arlington Theatre in the first of two shows at the Orange County Fair.

Thanks to skillful arrangements and the backing of an excellent five-man band, they breathed fresh life into material that might well sound dated if left to less caring voices.
By musically updating much of their hits from the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Everly Brothers effectively fused pop, country and rock influences into an hour-long set of their best-known songs.

The Kentucky duo opened with "The Price of Love," a wonderful song that was a hit in England in 1965 (reaching No. 2 on the charts), but largely ignored in America. Don Everly, who sings lead vocals, and Phil Everly, who provides harmonies, wasted no time in alerting the crowd that they still believe in the power of their music.
Through the course of their 16-song set, the brothers were gracious, and injected a good deal of humor between numbers.
And sharing humor without losing focus on the performance of the songs was no small feat, considering the depth of songs such as the beautiful "Cathy's Clown" or equally melodic "All I Have To Do Is Dream. " Whether tackling "Cryin' in the Rain" with a country feel or the rock classic "Lucille," the Everly Brothers' primary concern was to put on an energetic performance while doing right by the music.
They scored high on both counts.

Halfway through the set, they modestly excused themselves from the stage to let guitarist extraordinaire Albert Lee lead the band in a jamming version of his "Country Boy. " After the song was over and the Everly Brothers had returned to the stage, Don Everly joked that Lee had learned to play lead guitar by following the charts in a Everly Brothers songbook.
Then, just as quickly, the group launched into "(Till) I Kissed You," which sounded better as delivered by the brothers Monday than on the 1959 recording still a staple on oldies stations.
Hard to believe that the duo scored its first hit with "Bye Bye Love," in 1957. But after seeing the Everly Brothers deliver such a strong show Monday, it's easy to hear how their harmony style seems to have influenced rock pioneers such as The Beatles in the 1960s as well as the contemporary sounds of R.E.M. _ proving it is a style that can successfully weather the fickle tastes of the pop-music world without missing a beat.

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