Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Concert Review: Barry Gibb - The Mythology Tour (Bee Gees) at the United Center, Chicago

 
 
 
It’s a sad story to lose three of your siblings (Andy Gibb passed in the late 1980's) before any of them reached the age to qualify for Medicare, but fortunately Barry Gibb’s wife of 44 years (yes, that is correct) convinced him he needed to get out there and play music. Thankfully, for us he is still playing that music and doing it brilliantly.  
 
Last night’s performance at Chicago’s United Center (home to the Blackhawks and the Bulls) was certifiably one of the finest live shows I’ve ever witnessed. Barry Gibb has received a multiple number of honors over his 48 year career, but knowing the Bee Gees are the only act in history to write, produce and record four number one hits in a row may be the most stupendously over the top achievement any music artist could even dream of. Obviously, the Bee Gees were one of the most commercially successful (even beyond their work on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack) and critically acclaimed acts in all of music history; and Mr. Gibb's show provides a well-rounded look at the career of the Bee Gees.   
 
Most people think of the aforementioned Saturday Night Fever soundtrack when they think of the Bee Gees, but the brothers Gibb were a heady act of great renown before that 1977 splash of music paint hit the walls of the waning years of the disco generation. Those tunes remain some of the finest songs of the now defunct era, but shockingly they still hold up nearly four decades past their first turn of the 33 1/3. 
 
Gibb’s entrance onto the stage was overwhelming. He wasn’t on stage for three songs before an extended crush of a standing ovation was given. Gibb seemed flush with the feeling of good will. He genuinely was surprised by all of that fan love. He also seemed troubled to hear the shouts of WE LOVE YOU BARRY every time some 60 plus year old yelled it out while he was singing one of his multitude of stunningly beautiful love songs. As much as I enjoy and have enjoyed the music of the Bee Gees I simply didn’t remember all of these beautiful and in some cases downright obscure ballads. I loved every minute of it.  At many concerts the last thing you want to hear is an obscure “slow song,” but not at a Gibb concert. Those whopper sized donuts of love were welcomed with open arms in Chicago. After listening to them, you ask yourself, what music do people today fall in love to?  
 
Gibb can still hit and hold the notes; and that famed falsetto is still working at its peak. This man resides comfortably in the glory of superbly crafted music. He is a gifted songwriter both lyrically and musically. Many of his compositions are orchestral which opens a wide path for all of the critical acclaim he has received.  
 
There were so many highlights that you could say the entire list of thirty songs were the highlight. It was one big reel of pop genius. The monumental Lonely Days sounded like the original track and it was hard to believe that all of this came about via nine musicians and three back-up singers. To Love Somebody never sounded as good. How Can You Mend A Broken Heart was performed solo in this showcase, because Maurice’s daughter was out sick (Samantha is touring with her uncle). Barry's son Steve is on stage with his iconic dad. Steve is a guitarist who favors metal and tattoos. He is a nice driver of lead guitar work, so it's family, but it's always been family for Barry Gibb.    

 
Stayin’ Alive still has the ability to get the heart pumping and I literally dare the shyest among us to not at least move an arm. Some of the great classics from the late 1960’s and early 1970’s were meshed with the finely tuned upbeat songs and Gibb never missed a beat. The ballads are all here. I’ve Gotta Get a Message To You, Run To Me, and Words 
 
Gibb takes on Night Fever and More Than a Woman with a hanging from the ceiling disco ball. We get a rousing round of songs he wrote for other artists, including the powerful drama of a tune, Woman In Love.


He pays tribute to Bruce Springsteen with a lovely rendition of I’m on Fire. Springsteen has been playing Stayin’ Alive on tour, so it was payback time in their mutual love fest. Gibb said Springsteen is the greatest live act in music. Springsteen is, but Gibb is high on the list of great live acts, even at his current age.   
 
The great “One” was played as though it were an overture number from a musical out of the 1940’s. The stunning panorama of gorgeous ballads kept coming. If you have never heard Morning of My Life or With the Sun In My Eyes do yourself a big life favor and download these tracks. His current versions are almost a little too penetrating to the soul; and it all kept going. When was the last time you said at 11pm on a Tuesday night you wanted to stay out and listen to the music?!    
 
My only dilemma: my two favorite Bee Gees songs were not performed. Why on earth Fanny (Be Tender With My Love) was not added to the set list is slightly off my radar of thought. One of the most beautiful love songs ever wasn't played at the United Center. Love You Inside Out is so blatantly and ballistically brilliant it should be played no matter where he goes and this song missed the set list as well. 
 
The Mythology tour ends in California shortly, so hopefully Mr. Gibb will have enjoyed himself so much on this tour that he will carry himself back to the stage within the next couple of years. The ticket prices were reasonable. Shockingly, he didn’t sell out the venue. That is bizarre, but as the aging boomer population retreats into their own isolated cocoons we may see less and less of the great artists of the latter half of the 20th century taking to the road. There aren’t many of them left, but Barry Gibb was and remains one of the most resourcefully talented people the music industry ever had their hands on.  
 

Final Note: Jared & the Mill opened for Gibb in Chicago. The five man band from Arizona were strikingly good; and shockingly the audience paid attention to their detailed and finely performed set. I highly recommend checking out their music. 
 
 
Copyright Chicago and Then Some 2014
 

5 comments:

  1. Thanks for the review. You nailed that show. great show

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  2. Cool. Seeing him tonight in Concord! Out of curiosity, how long did Jared & the Mill play for?

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  3. To Anonymous 2: Jared & the Mill were fantastic. Superb musicians and the lead singer is worthy of anyone's time. Hopefully, you aren't asking to dodge the opening act. By the way, I don't know if they are opening for Mr. Gibb on every night of the tour. I'm sure they didn't open for all of his performances. Having said that, they took the stage right on the start time nose and played for approximately 30 minutes.

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  4. Sounds great. Thanks, Judith! No, I'll be there for the entire show :) Looking forward to checking out the new guys also. Can't wait! :D

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