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.
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.
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.