BARRY GIBB AND THE BOWL FULL OF LOVE

Bowl 6414

Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood, California. June 4, 2014. Barry Gibb Mythology – The Tour video marquee before start of show. (Photo by Samii Taylor)

Last night, Barry Gibb played the Hollywood Bowl for the first time, but hopefully, not the last.  Even before the opening graphic roll, the crowd was chanting “Barry.  Barry.”  Gibb took the stage to the applause and adulation of a packed house of fans…and their children who drove them to the venue.

Fans may be middle-aged and gray-haired, but they know their artist and willingly paid the price and hiked up the hills of the Bowl to pay homage to the eldest of the Bee Gees.  Faithful fans and new converts were more than rewarded for their efforts.  Gibb provided over two hours of flawless entertainment, presenting an entire retrospective of tunes from the Bee Gees’ first composition, to their first radio hit Spicks and Specks,” to classics like Spirits Having Flown,” and, the Brothers’ favorite composition, “Immortality.  A bonus track was Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire,” performed in tribute for a recent Sydney performance of “Stayin’ Alive” by The Boss.

Near the end of the show, Barry announced, “Okay.  I can take it if you can.”  Cue the disco set.  The pin spot hit the mirror ball and the crowd went wild.  They love it all, but this was what they came for.  This part of the Gibb music legacy embodies the strongest memories of millions of fans.  The crowd stood and swayed the entire set, cell phones in hand, documenting their moment – data charges be damned!

Like fine wine, age has only improved this artist’s perfect vocals and style.  Gibb paced himself so that his signature falsetto remained clear and strong the entire night’s performance.  The tunes are a bit slower in tempo, enabling listeners to savor the moment.  Gibb sat out a few songs to give solo time to other artists in the ensemble.

Eldest son Stephen Gibb provided vocals and guitar the entire concert.  His thin frame and youth belie the strong, deep-throated rock vocal performance on a song penned by his uncle Maurice entitled “On Time.”  There is no falsetto here, but Stephen brings forth passion born of experience with life.  A well-known artist in his own right, he more than held his own with Dear Ol’ Dad, and the crowd added another generation of Gibb to their list of favorite performers.

Bowl Stage

Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood, California. June 4, 2014. Barry Gibb and band onstage during Mythology, the Tour concert. (Photo by Samii Taylor)

The bare foot beauty of the tour, Samantha Gibb, gave an equally stunning performance on several songs on the playlist.  The only daughter of Bee Gee Maurice Gibb, she delivered clear, strong lead and back up vocals.  Sammy also has a solo career and proved she lacks nothing when it comes to her unique style and talent.  The audience buzzed with their appreciation of both.

Backup vocalist Beth Cohen provided vocals on Gibb penned songs for other artists like Barbra Streisand’s “Guilty” and Dolly Parton’s “Islands In The Stream.”  The Mythology backup singers are ladies who prove they bring more to the table than window dressing.

What could have been a sappy and manipulative tribute to Gibb’s late brothers, Andy, Maurice and Robin, was tasteful, insightful and seamlessly blended into the show.  Photos of the brothers were inserted appropriately and allowed Gibb to share insight into the brotherly dynamics they shared.  It was not morbid or trite, it was reassuring that this family is as real as the rest of us.  Gibb sang the first verse of  “I Started A Joke,” then the video screen behind him switched to archival footage of Robin singing the rest of the song.  The collective heart audibly skipped a beat upon seeing this perfect use of technology and talent.

Sadly, a portion of the audience felt the need to leave after the disco set.  “We’re not finished,” Gibb calmly announced.  He wasn’t kidding.  The encore included a moving tribute to wife, Linda.  “Words” are all he has to take her heart away – so it has been for 40 plus years.

The stage was set to match the no frills, all class tone of Mythology, The Tour.  The lighting design was visually exciting with no gimmicks.  The accompanying graphic displays were crisp, clean, and added to the overall entertainment experience.  Tasteful camera shots for the big screens brought everyone closer to the action without frenetic switching and Dutch angles.  This was a real class act.

Mythology audio engineer, Randy Lane from Clair Brothers, masterfully mixed intelligible lyrics, distinguishable instruments, and just the right amount of echo and delay.  Compression was perfect – nothing squashed.  Equalization was perfect – nothing gritty or offensive.  At a solid 80-85 db in the cheaper seats, the mix level was loud enough to be heard, but not ear-splitting.  It really doesn’t get much better than that.

Moti Gibb

Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood, California. June 4, 2014. Barry Gibb performing onstage at Hollywood Bowl. (Photo courtesy of Moti Gibb)

Clearly, Gibb’s stunning performance at the Hollywood Bowl has not become part of music mythology – it has become part of the rich entertainment heritage that is the Gibb family’s music legacy. With a strong voice, a great band, a pro crew, and a talented family to back him up, it is quite possible that for Barry Gibb, reinvention means another era of popular music history is yet to come.

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4 thoughts on “BARRY GIBB AND THE BOWL FULL OF LOVE

  1. I’m going to paste my review in here for you in the hopes that Coley and his Mom will see it. If it’s too long, go ahead and delete it.

    This was a great evening for me and 15, 000 others at the Hollywood Bowl. Barry Gibb, the last of the Bee Gees was performing and the concert was a tribute to his brother and to the whole family. The night was just perfect, the sky was clear, it had been a warm day, the opening act was really quite good and everyone was primed for something special. That is exactly what we got.

    Opening the show with two number one hits that started the disco era, “Jive Talkin” and “You Should be Dancing”, he had everyone on their feet before they knew it and the rest was easy. All he needed to do was move from one song to another, and the audience was with him. In the two and a half hours that the show ran, there were only a couple of songs from the catalogue that might have been unfamiliar to a casual fan, but I knew them and so did everyone around me. The rest of the program was packed with hits from the sixties, the seventies and the eighties and, if you lived anywhere else than America, you would recognize a couple of hits from the nineties as well. The evening was fan friendly and familiar and extensive.

    Barry’s voice was in wonderful form, and yes he can still reach those high register falsetto notes that were his trademark starting in the mid-seventies. I did not hear a sour note or a vocal crack . He sounded strong and in control, and probably is able to replicate the sound because he manages the vocal time on stage well. Obviously he is without his talented siblings who together provided the greatest harmonies of the rock era. Sometimes he would have to take the lead on a song that his late brother Robin was known for, but usually he was careful to stick to the arrangements that focused on his vocal contributions to the Bee Gees. He was backed up by a fantastic trio of singers who stepped in and provided those harmonies that the band was so well known for. While it could never be as sweet without Robin and Maurice there singing beside him, the back up vocalists managed to make amazing contributions of their own, evoking the sound of the band and allowing Barry to emphasize what he did best.

    Two other singers made frequent contributions as well. Maurice’s daughter Samantha performed a couple of songs on her own and then traded vocals with her uncle on several other songs. She is very talented with a country inflected tone that made the songs she performed feel even more warm and inviting. My wife has had a thing for Barry Gibb for forty years or more, last night she fell in love with another of the Gibb family, Barry’s son Stephen. Stephen supports the tour as lead guitarist. His work with the instrument was fantastic but it was his stage persona and singing that made my wife and I fans. He has a gravelly voice suited for metal styles and his deep growling snap was an interesting contrast to his fathers smooth high pitched sound. He sang lead on two songs and took a Maurice penned song, “On Time” and turned it into a smoking hot rock song that shows that the Bee Gees were just as much a Rock act as a pop phenomena. I sure hope there is a live album or video of the concert to come because I want to play this version of the song on my stereo in the car, loud!

    Well maybe everyone else at the concert had a great time, but we sat in a box with two fans who had a spectacular time. Coley and his Mother Amy, flew out from Alabama to be at this show. Coley just turned 18 and graduated from high school last week. His Mom told us that the Bee Gees have been his favorite band since he was five and his grandmother would play them on the stereo when she babysat. This was his graduation present from his parents and he almost lost it when the show started. He has been tracking the tour and collecting albums and this was his first time hearing Barry live. He seemed to be in heaven. Both Coley and his Mother were on their feet for the whole show. They knew every word to every song and sometimes quietly sang along, never interfering with the stage performance, but reflecting real appreciation as the show went on. They came in the day before the show and were flying home this morning. I’m not sure that Coley will need a plane to get back to Alabama.

    Back up singer Beth Cohen was an amazing stand in for some of the women that have sung songs written by the Brothers Gibb. She and Barry did “Islands in the Stream” and she slung it out there as well as Dolly could have done. The two Streisand tunes were also solid and she did “A Woman in Love” pretty much on her own, and I don’t think anyone in the audience was disappointed that Barbara did not show up, because her vocal stand in was wonderful.

    Robin made an appearance via recording when the set came to “I Started a Joke”. Video was used judiciously, and this was the one spot where a previous performance by one of the departed brothers was shown. It was incredibly stirring and a moment that drew an ovation from the audience that reflected both admiration for the song and singer but especially for the crisp vocal that makes this song so winsome. It was a touching moment that did not overdo the sentiment but seemed to strike the perfect chord for the moment.

    When Barry cleared his throat, paused and then said “here we go” everyone knew that the disco highs were about to start. “Staying Alive” had actually been early in the set, but now we got “Nights on Broadway”, “More Than a Woman”, “Grease” and of course “Night Fever” all in a concentrated dose. It was musical manna from heaven and got all of the Bowl up on its collective feet to boogie away for the last section of the show. The audience was filled with older folks but they still looked like they had the Travolta moves down. Everyone was having the time of their lives and the band seemed to be into it as well. There were several guitarists as well as Barry and his son, there was a drummer who was exactly right and a percussionist who fit into the grooves in all the right places. Keyboards and synthesizers are a part of the music but you never got the feeling that sometimes accompanies other disco sounds, that the act is really a trick of a computerized beat and a synth lick doing all the work. This band was powerful and polished and I could not help thinking how proud the Father and Son must be of each other. It made the evening extra special, to see how well everyone was working together.

    The encore consisted of the most heartfelt love song that I ever heard from the band. “Words” was done as a tribute to Barry’s wife of forty-four years, Linda. The audience sing along throws off the timing of Barry’s final chorus, but everyone knows that it is coming and he finds the spot where he left off and nails the climax of the song. I wanted to lean over and make out with my wife right there in front of 15,000 other people. The final song of the night was one of the three number one hits from the “Spirits Having Flown” album, the disco/rock melange “Tragedy’ which put a powerful cap on the evening and reminded us all that if Barry Gibb does not keep playing, that would be the real tragedy. He finished with the very hopeful words “We’ll see you all again soon”. Lets’ hope so.

  2. The mixing engineer for Barry’s US and UK shows was Randy Lane, who works at Clair Bros.

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