THE GUESS WHO
October 10, 2001
Joe Cocker took the stage looking like Fred Sanford doing an imitation of John Belushi doing an imitation of well Joe Cocker. Relegated to the opening act slot, Joe took no prisoners with his smooth but hit heavy set that proved that some talent doesnt dim. Opening with Feelin Alright, there was a lounge lizard edge to the crystal clear sound. Cockers timeless, inexplicable hand gestures and air guitar (sometimes violin) only added to the air of history in the building. By the time he got to the double shot of Up Where We Belong and You Are So Beautiful, the middle-aged hormones had taken over the building. Couples locked in embraces slow danced and got even more explicit in the darker wings of the theater (much as their children might at 99Xs Big Day Out). Tunes like the super suggestive You Can Leave Your Hat On only took those emotions further. Joe didnt shy away from any high notes. He belted out gutteral shrieks that strained his face and his voice as the audience got more and more into it. The Letter distracted the make out session and returned the proceedings to a rock show, but it was not until an unbelievable take of With A Little Help From My Friends that fever pitch was reached. The amazing rhythm section was given a chance to shine here. Bassist Oleta James kept it together while uber drummer Kenny Aaronoff took flight with a rock solid, dazzling performance that got faster and faster until it sounded as if the band may actually leave the ground. After strong encores of She Came In Through The Bathroom Window and Cry Me A River, Cocker left the audience on their feet and chanting his name.
The Guess Who:
Long before little virgin Britney and her boyfriend Justin, long before New Dorks On The Block and Flock Of Nimrods and even before Michaels face was made of plastiscene, there was a band that played songs for real people, stated Guess Who frontman Burton Cummings about his recently reunited group that had convened in Atlanta for the first time (with original guitarist Randy Bachman) since1970. During a 19 song set that featured all of the bands major hits (and occasional swerves into Bachmans later group BTO), The Guess Who relied on musical chops and unbelievably strong material that stood the test of time much better than the people responsible for the sound. The singer looked like Nintendos Mario with his dyed (?) black hair and moustache. Of course, all Bachman needed was a red suit and hat to be welcomed down any chimney at Christmas time. None of that mattered while the band played. The crowd clearly was glad to have The Guess Who back as they launched into Shakin All Over. The top 40 singles were coming fast and furious after that. Hand Me Down World, These Eyes, You Aint Seen Nothin Yet, and Laughing had the crowd dancing. Even the bands career lowlight Clap For The Wolfman had some life tonight. An acoustic coffee house set provided a change of pace for the middle of the show. The amazing harmonies on Let It Ride were only topped by the deftness of Bachmans playing on Undun that actually found people singing along with the solo. After returning to their electric instruments, American Woman had the mostly upper middle class former hippie crowd degenerating 30 years as the smell of pot filled the beautiful Fox Theater. The crowd stood on chairs, grabbed strangers to dance with, sang along and generally made fools out of themselves in a refreshingly fun way. Surprisingly, the highlight of the night wasnt American Woman but Randys Bachman-Turner Overdrive hit Takin Care Of Business. Goaded on by an especially intense performance from the group, the masses reached new heights of hysteria. After the Buffalo Springfield-esque No Time, vocalist Burton Cummings delivered an ironic but audience inciting speech about the recent attacks on America. Declaring, I hope these fundamentalist sons of bitches get vaporized off the face of the earth, he then wished for peace and God's blessing. It was an odd statement that no one seemed to take notice of while wrapped in their jingoistic fervor. The Guess Who ended their set with the hippie commune anthem Share The Land. Hands throughout the theater waved side to side and voices united to sing a long. The Guess Who put on a thoroughly entertaining show without the aid of any special effects or gimmicks. They took the audience back to a time when the songs were all that mattered.
To read a concertshots.com exclusive interview with Randy Bachman of The Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive, click here.
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