Monday, September 17, 2007

K-Earth concert in Irvine showcases 'Golden Oldies'

PHOTO: Patrick Simmons of the Doobie Brothers performed at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2007. Photo credit: Christina House

(Review and photo originally published in the Orange County Register on Sunday, Sept. 16, 2007)

Review: A wide-ranging mix of feel good-styled hits is delivered courtesy of a strong mix of classic artists.

Special to the Register

Based on the festive atmosphere at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater on Saturday night (Sept. 15, 2007), it seems like a good bet that many of the fans who attended the K-Earth 101 35th Anniversary Concert were in a mood to party.
I don't recall any other event in recent memory where the radio station deejays received the rousing welcome that the near-capacity crowd gave the K-Earth hosts early in the evening.
The event began in the late afternoon when it was still hot, but temperatures dropped precipitously as the night went on likely leading to many fans' decision to leave before Chicago finished the event just before 11:30 p.m.

However, that alone couldn't mar a line-up that worked despite the seemingly contradictory styles on the bill.
I've seen headliner Chicago a number of times over the past decade and the eight-member troupe can be uneven depending on the day. During its 90-minute headlining set here, the group was clearly up to the challenge in playing before a large crowd on a bill with other established artists.
Singer-keyboardist Robert Lamm sounded better than anytime in memory, delivering strong versions of signature hits such as the poignant "Colour My World" and "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?" During one of the band's best-known songs, "Saturday in the Park," Lamm came out front with a small, portable keyboard and fronted the band to good effect.
The group also closed with a strong seven-minute version of the classic rocker "25 or 6 to 4," allowing lead guitarist Keith Howland and the strong three-man horn section to display plenty of firepower to close out a strong set.

However, it was the Doobie Brothers that performed the most pleasing and compelling set of the night. Playing a dozen songs over the course of an hour, the group played hits while also offering up lesser-known material that showcased the varied influences of the seven-member outfit.
From the gospel-styled "Jesus Is Just Alright" (complete with the group's full harmonies delivered in tandem with frontman Patrick Simmons' blazing guitar licks), swamp rock of "Black Water" and the two-guitar instrumental gem "Five Corners," the Doobies' set never faltered. Other highlights included straightforward versions of "China Grove" and "Listen to the Music" that got many in the audience to their feet.

War played only 30 minutes, but that was enough time for lead singer Lonnie Jordan (the only remaining original member of the group) and company to play singalong hits such as "The Cisco Kid," "Why Can't We Be Friends" and "Low Rider."

With the Stylistics' sound built around ballads delivered courtesy of singer Eban Brown's falsetto, the group's Philly blend of vocal soul might seem a better fit with Hall & Oates then on this bill. But songs such as the contagious "You Are Everything" and sweet love song "You Make Me Feel Brand New" worked remarkably well.

Opening the show were the Four Tops, one of the best purveyors of the classic Motown sound. The four-man vocal group and a strong backing 12-member band blasted through hits such as "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)," "It's the Same Old Song," "Bernadette" and "Baby I Need Your Loving." It was one of the fastest 30-minute spans I can remember.

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