KOOL Koncert '05
2 July 2005
Coors Amphitheatre, Englewood, CO
This makes the third KOOL 105.1 concert I've attended, and I was relatively familiar with all seven acts booked for this All-Star-of-Oldies show. But, my music likings tend to center around 1965-1975, the first, formative ten years of my life. As such, I was one of the youngest ticket holders in the Amphitheatre formerly known as "Fiddler's Green", since bought out by the beer company owned by Pete Coors.
After the KOOL house (warmup) band, all seven acts performed sets that deserve remarks.
Walking out at about 2:30 P.M. were Gary Lewis and the Playboys. I'm not sure how long the "Playboys" have indeed been Playboys, but the lead singer is the one, the only, the original. Yes, he is the son of legendary comedian Jerry Lewis. And, though he may share his nose, and his dancing antics with his father, Gary's voice is all his, and is perhaps slightly more nasal in tone than in his heydays of the mid-1960s. Lewis, in dark slacks and a tucked-in multi-color short-sleeve button-down shirt, asked the audience to "Count Me In". In addition to his some of his 7 consecutive Top-10 hits, "Everybody Loves A Clown", "She's Just My Style", "Sure Gonna Miss Her", and "Green Grass", Lewis covered Brian Hyland's "Sealed With a Kiss", and the big hit by fellow Dick-Clark-Caravan-Of-Stars member Sam The Sham, "Wooly Bully". Gary ended the set with the song that temporarily kept the Beatles out of the #1 spot in 1964, "This Diamond Ring".
Next came a band that bettered Elvis for the title of most successful Memphis recording act of 1967, the Box Tops. With all four original members alive and intact, the now short-haircut R&B/pop hitmakers ran through "Cry Like A Baby", "Neon Rainbow", and "Soul Deep", as well as a cover of "Whiter Shade of Pale". Their biggest hit, "The Letter", ended their 45-minute set.
Third on the bill was a vocalist who once rivaled the likes of Tom Jones, Englebert Humperdinck, and Elvis, in both sound and appearance. Decked in tight, flaired, frayed blue jeans, a black t-shirt, and unbuttoned black long-sleeved shirt, B.J. Thomas took the stage with a nervous humor demeanor, seeming very interested in the response from the audience. The set included "Hooked On A Feeling", and his excellent cover of the Beach Boys' "Don't Worry Baby". I had forgotten that the songs, "(Hey Won't You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song", and "Rock and Roll Lullaby" were his. Before "I Just Can't Help Believin'", B.J. remarked how though a) Elvis covered the song, and b) Elvis criticized B.J.'s version, B.J. in fact was the only one of the two who scored a gold record with the single. Though Colorado front range afternoon precipitation landed on the audience briefly during his and only his set, it didn't occur during his performance of "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head". B.J. ended his set with the theme song from Growing Pains he and Jennifer Warnes made famous, "As Long As We've Got Each Other".
At 5:40 P.M. the Spinners walked out in extremely bright blue patriotic suits, to "Could It Be I'm Falling In Love". The suits were so hot that all member agreed to remove their jackets over their white, silky t-shirts. Named after vinyl disc players of days gone by (and after their dancing technique), the Spinners rightfully credited Stevie Wonder for "It's A Shame". "Mighty Love", "How Could I Let You Get Away", and "Heaven On Earth" empowered their trademark pop/R&B sound that I listened intently to while I was in 2nd Grade. No "Rubberband Man", "Then Came You" "Cupid / I've Loved You For A Long Time", or "Workin' My Way Back To You / Forgive Me Girl", but the five spinning singers gave a soulful touch to the Willie Nelson penned "Ain't It Funny How Time Slips Away".
I've seen Paul Revere and The Raiders enough times. In addition to their hits "Kicks", "Indian Reservation", "Hungry", "Good Thing", and "Just Like Me", Paul Revere and hired Raiders saluted the troops with "For What It's Worth", and CCR songs like "Run Through The Jungle" and "Fortunate Son", and ". Paul is still the Madman of Rock and Roll, even moreso than Joe Walsh. Paul still waves a pistol at the band and audience while sitting comfortably behind the front end of a 1965 Ford Mustang, babbling incessantly to humor the audience, even referring to the following act as the Dingleberries. Among the hired Raiders is lead vocalist Darrin Medley, son of Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Bill Medley. Darrin and band tributed the Righteous Brothers with covers of "Unchained Melody" and "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling".
The show really lucked out by booking the Raspberries, reunited for the first time in years. Let's be honest--the focus of the Raspberries is Eric Carmen, as evidenced by the successful solo career he experienced following the fragmentation of the group. But, Eric, dressed like Lou Gramm, and visually resembling Robert Plant, performed as if he were an equal among equals, sharing the stage evenly with original lead guitar player Wally Bryson, and James Griffin lookalike, David Smalley. A hit from my 1973 K-Tel Fantastic album, "I Wanna Be With You" opened the set for Eric & band. "Tonight", and an optimally-chosen key-of-E "Let's Pretend" identified how much the Byrds and the Beach Boys influenced their sound, though the Raspberries definitely add their own edge. Eric walked to an electric piano to introduce the next song, one he wrote in frustration the music industry--he approached his record company with the tune completed as "Hit Record" only to hear, in response, a request to rename as "Overnight Sensation". Eric said, "Thank you very much! This is what I'm talking about!!!". The live version benefited from drummer Jim Bonfanti's crashing solo towards the end. Carmen introduced the finale, "Go All The Way", as "a beautiful ballad I wrote in 1971". Eric did not perform any of his solo hits--not a one.
Headlining the bill was what has to be the most self-absorbed musician in modern history, the self-labeled "Architect of Rock and Roll", Little Richard. After a five-minute instrumental introduction, Little himself almost gave James Brown a run for the money, in both dress and presumptuousness. The going-on-73-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Famer banged the piano to "Good Golly Miss Molly", "Long Tall Sally", "Lucille" "Tutti Fruiti", and "Blueberry Hill".
A massive fireworks show ended the 8+ hours of festivities. This concert was a great way to fill up an entire Saturday.
[****] - Steven T.
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