GINO VANNELLI @BLUMA APPEL THEATRE – WED., APRIL 24th, 2019
Review by Wayne Baggs
Interview by Sally Warburton
Photographs By BK on the SCENE
With much skepticism, because of a music snobbery that we all have, I headed off to see Gino Vannelli. Being familiar with his early smooth LA song production made me think I would have to reminisce about the old 70’s hit days. Besides the hits, some of the old stuff was great and bordered more on jazz than the funk groove that the hits had. This was the Gino I was hoping to see.
No one can doubt this guy can sing. Power, range, emotion, musically he has all the ammo. Songs like Jo Jo from “Powerful People” are prime examples. Us music snobs on the 70’s were not allowed to like any AM hits, or their performers. But he was from Montreal and some of it was Jazzier and well crafted, so the Albums could get worked in once in a while.
I was looking forward to a stripped down version of the hits that he had to play. His music was and is crafted in the finest his art has to offer. So, I figured the musicians in the Band would have to be great musicians. Not disappointed, they were top-notch players. Tight. Definitely a more mature jazzy feel to the band. They looked and felt to me they would be comfortable playing Steely Dan. The old hits were not, note for note reproductions, but a more jazzy feel. Less the pop AM hit sound they were originally made for.
Unlike many trotting out the old, Gino has a new Album of great material. He is also still in the music biz. Also a sign the show could be good. If you haven’t done anything in 20 years, well hey. His voice was bang on. He didn’t shy away from hitting the range.
A pleasant surprise was a song from Storm at Sunup, Gettin’ High. Again a jazzier feel then the album. It also really shows the vocal acrobatics this man is capable of, if not restrained to dance grooves. The title track from his ‘81 album “Night Walker” let you know the power is still there. Some thoughtful insight between songs were the right compliment and charming explanations of the new songs were welcomed by the audience. It gave you the sense of a down to earth man interested in the human condition.
I have to agree with him about the clothes he wears. He looked great, but if you want to be like Neil Young, do it. Be less managed and let it rip Gino. The voice is still fantastic and the band is great. If you are remotely thinking of seeing Gino, go. If your lady wants to drag you to the show! I think you’ll be surprised. Quality show at a great venue. Would I see him again! Yup!
We would like to thank Eric Alper for the invitation to this concert and the opportunity to interview Gino Vannelli.