Sunday, June 22, 2014

An Evening With Darlene Love
Festival Theatre
June 20 2014
One show only.

You never know who you will be sitting next to at an event like this. I suspect the gentleman sitting next to me doesn't get out of the house much. On the stage one of the greatest singers of all time is singing, my neighbour is asking me "How old do you think she is?""This is a great song isn't?" and most annoyingly of all "I've never heard of this one. Do you know it? I've never heard of it.". After a while he tires of me not answering and gets back to his other favourite in concert pass time, singing along. This, he is determined to do, despite not know the right words.

Darlene Love is one of the great voices that define the 1960's. As part of the Phil Spector Wall of Sound.  She was the voice of The Crystals, Bob B Soxx & The Blue Jeans and the Blossoms and has sung with everybody from Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley (she is even on the '68 Comeback special) to Cheech & Chong (seriously! She does backing vocals on Basketball Jones). She also played Danny Glovers wife in the Lethal Weapon movies. As a solo artist she had some success but most people are here for the evergreen sounds of the 60's.

An impressive ten piece band and four backing vocalists, provide a suitable lush backing for powerhouse vocals of Ms Love, who at 72 can still sing people a fraction of her age under the table. Her voice is rich, full, it's powerful, soulful...brassy. Amazing pipes, and great legs, damn! Pipes and pins. And tonight seems to whiz by between doing most of those Spector era songs she is known for and some medleys by friends like Marvin Gaye and Roberta Flack. There are some good stories about people she has worked with.

Last year Darlene Love featured strongly in the amazing 20 feet From Fame, which won the Academy Award for best documentary. Love was the one that accepted the award on the night and one of  tonight's highlights is her take on the Bill Withers classic Lean on Me.         

The Phil Spector stories don't really go into too much detail of his famous mistreatment of his artists, but just the way she refers to him as 'Mr Spec-tor', tells a story of it's own. "Over the years, with Mr Spec-tor......I learned not to hate him or dislike him. Because I have places to go and people to meet and he is not here with us. He has been put away for life.". Like some other music greats, it is sometimes difficult to separate their crimes from their creative output. Do the child abuse allegations against Michael Jackson make Billie Jean any less of a brilliant song? Does Wesley Snipes going to jail for tax evasion make me like the Blade movies any less? And does Phil Spectors terrible treatment of his performers and ultimately the murder of a women in his home, make Be My Baby or Da Doo Ron Ron any less epic, timeless classic songs? The answer is no, It makes me have to do a little compartmentalizing in my brain when I hear those songs, I can love the song and loath the actions of the man. Spector was always eccentric and there are countless tales of him doing seemingly oddball or dangerous things (listening to the opening chord of Rock'n'Roll High School for 14 hours in a row, waving guns at people) that go from a bit weird to downright sinister in the light of his conviction. As Darlene says, he was a genius. He did incredible things and certainly gave her a career, but the implication is she is more than happy to never see him again, and that he will end his days in a prison cell. So when she does He's A Rebel, it's all about the glory of that song. The strident dismissal of negative feelings towards a teenage girls affection for her no-good-nik hoodlum boyfriend. She knows he is a rebel. She knows he's never, ever going be any good. She knows he's never, ever going do what he should. She knows, that just because he doesn't do what everybody else does, is no impediment to delivering to the aforementioned rebel, all of her not inconsiderable love. It was a glorious anthem of rebellion and teenage love when it was released in 1962 and fifty years later is still a cracker.

She finishes with a song that should have been hers. She did the original demo of River Deep Mountain High, but Spector instead gave it to Tina Turner who turned it into it into a bona fide rock & soul classic. It's five decades later and it is clear that action still stings, Ms Love sings the heck out of it tonight and suddenly she is gone.

It was a brief show (just over an hour and no encore) and one suspects there are more songs to sing and stories to tell. I hope we have the opportunity for our paths to cross again.

Ian Bell


He's Sure the One I Love
Wait Til My Bobby Gets Home / Da Do Ron Ron
Today I Met The Boy I'm Gonna Marry
Marvin Gaye Medley : Ain't That Peculiar / You're All I Need to Get By / Ain't No           Mountain High Enough / What's Going On?
Roberta Flack Medley : Killing Me Softly / .....
A Fine, Fine Boy
Lean On Me
He's A Rebel

River Deep Mountain High

No comments:

Post a Comment