Saturday, July 28, 2018

Concerts Aplenty: Psychedelic Furs, Thomas Dolby, Earth, Wind & Fire

Richard Butler of the Psychedelic Furs greets fans at Pacific
Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa on Thursday, July 19, 2018.
(Photo by Miguel Vasconcellos, OC Fair & Event Center)
My schedule has been decidedly hectic for the past several weeks, so I haven't had time to check in and share news on a trio of noteworthy shows I've caught dating back to July 19.

Catching the Psychedelic Furs live has always been on my "bucket list" so I can report catching the band at the Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa on July 19 was worth the wait. Lead singer Richard Butler proved to be an interesting and energetic frontman and some of his mannerisms reminded me of David Bowie. The six-member band delivered a mix of enduring hits ("Love My Way," "The Ghost in You," "Pretty in Pink," "Heartbreak Beat," "Heaven") and lesser-known gems. 

Cy Curnin of the Fixx performs at
Pacific Amphitheatre on Thursday, July 19, 2018.
(Photo by Miguel Vasconcellos, OC Fair & Event Center)
Two of my favorite other bands of the era also performed on the bill, including Los Angeles-spawned quartet X and alternative rockers the Fixx. I've seen X and the Fixx a number of times on previous occasions dating back to the 1980s and both bands continue to deliver powerful shows built around songs that stand the test of time. In particular Fixx classics such as "Saved by Zero," "Red Skies" and "Stand or Fall" rank among the best rockers of the 1980s.

All three bands were fantastic and this was truly a memorable night.

Make sure to check out writer George A. Paul's full-length review of that show here.

Thomas Dolby in concert and conversation at Largo at the Coronet.
Photo courtesy of Roland
Fast forward to July 25, 2018 and only my second-ever chance to catch groundbreaking English composer/singer-songwriter/keyboardist Thomas Dolby at Largo at the Coronet

This was an incredible two-part show where Dolby would have audience members reach into a hat and pull out small ping pong balls with the names of some of his most beloved material. Dolby would then tackle each of those songs, discussing the song and its creation and then performing the song solo. A very special night that included arresting versions of classic originals including "Hyperactive," "Europa and the Pirate Twins," "One Of Our Submarines" and "She Blinded Me With Science."

To read a full-length report on this special performance, see writer Donna Balancia's review on the California Rocker site here.

Earth, Wind & Fire performing at the Pacific Amphitheatre on
Friday, July 27, 2018.
Photo courtesy of the Orange County Fair.
Finally, last night (July 27, 2018I got to catch Earth, Wind & Fire at the Pacific Amphitheatre. While the audience seated around us was mostly awful (and generally far more interested in taking selfies, going on beer runs and chatting than listening to the group), the legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Famers performed more than 90 minutes in a flawless performance. I am always astounded how original the group is, having masterfully forged a long list of hits with a blend of R&B, funk, soul, disco, rock, pop and Afro pop sounds. 

Opening with the infectious 1975 hit "Sing a Song," it was clear the dynamics of the popular track were enhanced by virtuoso skills of the 12 musicians on stage, including a great three-man horn section. Many other hits and deep cuts followed, including the aptly-titled "Shining Star," a stellar cover of the Beatles' "Got to Get You into my Life," the shimmering "Fantasy" (this writer's favorite track of the night), "September," "Boogie Wonderland" and many more.

The band still features three of its key members from its classic period including singer-percussionist Philip Bailey, percussionist Ralph Johnson and bassist Verdine White (sadly group founder Maurice White passed away in February 2016). Bailey's signature falsetto vocals continue to be a wonder, as evidenced by soaring performances of the ballads "Reasons" and "After the Love Has Gone." And there is simply no way to slow down Verdine White, who is one of the most fun musicians to watch as he bounds around the stage and works his bass guitar with an infectious passion.

Now, if only the magic of the band's performance could have cast a spell on the capacity crowd to connect with EW&F like our group did!

Robert Kinsler

1 comment:

newwavegeo said...

Thanks for the shout out about my Psych Furs concert review!