17 July 1995
Fiddler's Green Amphitheatre, Englewood, CO
All men John Denver's age should envy his ability to consistently retain the same quantity of hair follicles throughout his lifetime. At age 51, the pop music superstar of the 1970s doesn't look a day over 35. I couldn't really say the same about the vast majority of the 60 % capacity crowd at the beautiful Fiddler's Green Amphitheatre, however. During his peak of several #1 pop singles in the early 1970s, John's primary demographic popularity resided in what would have then been considered "adult contemporary". If you figure that he has pretty much kept that same general audience, you can understand how I and my 29-year old friend felt a little outnumbered.
John, who strutted out in jeans and a tie-dye T-Shirt, may actually be on a comeback, now fitting in with the children and even grandchildren of his enormous fan base of days gone by. Days eariler, Denver had released his Wildlife Concert live album, his highest charting album in almost a decade. John opened the festivities with "Eagles and Horses", a galloping sprightly tune he wrote apparently after a weekend's exposure to one of the few places in North America where wild horses still run free, Wyoming. John Denver wanted to make sure he set the tone for the evening--a gentle reminder of the fragility of the wild places we're losing by the acre every second.
John then wasted no time launching into several of his enormously popular songs from the 1970s, such as "Country Roads" and "Annie's Song", written about his first wife. In his autobiography released in 1994, John very candidly pointed out how, though the two have long been divorced, a bond between them will forever remain unbroken.
After telling his fans how good it was to be "Back Home Again", the biggest audience response came, not surprisingly, during and after "Rocky Mountain High", with John's ending falsetto strong as ever.
Throughout most of the show, John performed with a competent, full backing band, which included excellent percussionist Michito Sanchez.
Exposing the mature audience's vulnerability to humor, John performed his successful attempt to break into mainstream country in the 1990s, "Get Your Tongue Out Of My Mouth, I'm Kissing You Goodbye". Also, John made very subtle reference to two recent, embarrassing DWI arrests, with his 1985 tune, "(The Bigger They Are) The Harder They Fall", the only song he performed on electric guitar during the course of the entire evening. "Who'da thunk it.....Johnny Denver playing Rock and Roll!"
Perhaps most impressive was this evening's performance of his #1 1975 hit, "Calypso". One of the rare cases when a 50+ year old performer's high vocals sound stronger and sharper than ever. Denver filled out the evening with a very good selection from his gold catalog, including "Shanghai Breezes", "Wild Montana Skies", "Sunshine On My Shoulders", "I'm Sorry", "Some Days Are Diamonds (Some Days Are Stone)", "Thank God I'm A Country Boy", and "Fly Away". The perfunctory encore provided "Leaving On A Jet Plane/Goodbye Again".
The son of a WWII-era B-58 pilot, John Denver, a pilot himself, has dedicated a lifetime to a never-ending, cause-supporting, hard-working pop music career that is deserving of honors near the same level as those his father achieved as an Air Force officer.
But, during this evening with John Denver, the performer showed how, through the years, he has remained the sincere, giving, dedicated voice for the environment.
[****] - Steven T.
Back to Concert Reviews Main Page