Monday, May 12, 2014


Artistic Rock at its Absolute Finest ... 
Without Question, One of the Greatest Shows I Have Ever Seen   

It's difficult finding the right words to tell you just how incredible and fantastic this show really was.  

Suffice to say that we sat through BOTH performances at The Arcada Theatre Saturday Night (May 10th, 7:00 pm and 9:30 pm), transfixed and spellbound.  (Truth be told, Frannie flat out refused to leave!!! She just HAD to see it again ... and I was right there with her.  We joked with Ron Onesti on the way out that if he put on a third, midnight show, we would have stayed for THAT one, too!  By the way, those are her camera-phone photos seen below.)  

While I've always enjoyed Parsons' music, I never saw the band perform live back in the day.  I have, however, grown to appreciate this music even more over time ... and let's face it ... these guys don't get out and do many live shows all that often anymore ... so I certainly wasn't going to let this opportunity pass me by ... I might never get another chance to see them.  In fact, I was REALLY looking forward to this concert event ... and knew I would be blown away by what I saw ... and, despite all of my pre-show optimism, I am happy to report that the show exceeded each and every one of my expectations in every conceivable way.  It was nothing short of spectacular.   

What an INCREDIBLE night of music, executed by some of the highest-caliber, top-notch musicians on Planet Earth.  EVERY song was performed to pure perfection ... and this is REALLY saying something when one considers that there wasn't a hit performed Friday Night that was sung by the original singer on the record!!!   

Parsons, a studio genius, has always used guest vocalists to best showcase his musical visions.  As such, artists like Allan Clarke of The Hollies, Colin Blunstone of The Zombies, as well as vocalists John Miles, Lenny Zakatek, Chris Rainbow and others have graced his work in order to achieve the exact sound he was looking for (or heard in his head.)  The guy who helped spearhead this journey ... an EXCELLENT vocalist himself and a fixture on a great number of hit records in their catalog ... Eric Woolfson ... passed away a few years ago.  His voice was like no other and he was also a hands-on conspirator to bring us music quite unlike any other on the airwaves ... then or since.  (Woolfson wore the multiple hats of manager, co-producer, co-writer, musician and vocalist on all of the original Alan Parsons Project's biggest records.)   

To that extent, Alan Parsons is often just a sideman in the band that bears his name.  Throughout the concert he remained in the background, filling in on guitar and keyboard where necessary, in a somewhat low-key manner.  He is not a "showman" ... or even the focal point of the band on stage ... more of just a "presence" that oversees the creation as it unfolds.  However, make no mistake about it ... this is HIS vision ... his dream ... his genius ... his musical kaleidoscope ... that the band brings to life every night on stage.  Quite honestly, they take the entire concept of "classic rock" to an entirely new level ... infectious, sophisticated, intelligent rock that affects the listener down to their very soul.  We both experienced chills and tears as the music overwhelmed us ... not an easy thing to do after 35+ years of repeated listenings!   

In fact, the thing about The Alan Parsons Live Project is that it isn't about pomp and circumstance at all ... the band isn't all flash and "showy" and over the top (although I will tell you that guitarist Alastair Greene is amongst the finest I have EVER seen) ... they just go out there and DO IT!!!  Masterfully orchestrated performances, rendered to pure perfection, live on stage.  

Credit goes to every single member of the band:  P.J. Olsson handles the majority of the lead vocals (although with a band boasting seven accomplished singers and players, the vocals were a spot-on delight to hear ... all seven members sing, making the background singing full and inspiring ... and throughout the course of the evening, four of these singers take on lead vocal duties as well, including Olsson, Greene, sax, guitar and percussionist Todd Cooper and Parsons himself). Filling out the arsenal are drummer Danny Thompson and bassist Guy Erez, both of whom keep the bottom end thumping at a kick-ass pulse rate ... this is music that you FELT!  This is some pretty intricate stuff they're trying to pull off on stage, with any number of melodic changes thrown into the mix ... and they pull it off flawlessly.  And let's not forget keyboardist Manny Foccarazzo ... so much of Alan Parsons' music is keyboard-driven ... and some of those sweeps and swoops literally send chills down your spine.  A top notch, stellar band in every conceivable way.  

What about the music?  A little bit of everything from every era ... including a brand new single "Fragile" which is now available for downloading through all of the usual sources like iTunes and Amazon ... and let me tell you, it sounds JUST like the best material the band recorded back in the day.  The set list comprised material from all of the phases of his career ... and it is no exaggeration to say that every song was a highlight.  (A complete Alan Parsons CD Collection has just been released on Arista Records that encompasses his entire recorded output, including an album that never saw the light of day ... for good reason, according to Parsons!  Copies were being sold in the lobby before and after the show for $140 ... but I just saw it on Amazon for about $92 ... which is a HELL of a deal for an 11-CD set!  That's just over eight bucks per CD!)   

Tracks like "Don't Answer Me", "Breakdown", "I Wouldn't Want To Be Like You", my all-time personal favorite "Time" (which literally had vocalist P.J. Olsson gasping for air at the end ... in a most heroic and endearing way!) and "Sirius / Eye In The Sky" (dedicated to all the Bulls fans in the audience during the second show) brought the crowd to its feet time and time again.  In fact, I can honestly say that I can't remember EVER seeing this many standing ovations during a single performance before ... nearly every song boosted the audience up out of their seats again to pay their respect to this remarkable band.   

The band performed the entire side suite from "The Turn Of A Friendly Card" to absolute perfection, transitioning from song to song seamlessly (while Alastair Greene changed guitars, tempos and moods at the drop of a hat.)  The encore(s) of "Psychobabble" (first show only) and "Games People Play" were absolute show-stoppers.  (The electricity generated by "Games People Play" still resonates 24 hours later as I type this!  It was surreal!)  Both sold out crowds couldn't get enough.  Couple this with the perfectly-executed lighting effects and this show goes down in my personal record books as one of the very best I've ever seen.  (Doing a little quick math here as I'm writing this, I figure that I've probably been to somewhere between 600 and 700 concerts in my lifetime ... add in all of the opening acts to that equation, many of whom went on to become headliners in their own right, and I may be up close to a thousand.  The show that The Alan Parsons Live Project put on at The Arcada Theatre Saturday Night most certainly ranks in The Top Five shows I've EVER seen for me ... and my guess is that EVERY SINGLE AUDIENCE MEMBER who was there that night would have to agree.)   

Checking the official website, it looks like we caught the tail end of this part of their U.S. tour ... there are only a couple more show scheduled here in The States.  On Tuesday, May 13th, they'll be at The Cleveland Performing Arts Center before doing three shows at The Walt Disney Show Resort on May 16th, 17th and 18th.  (They will perform three half hour shows each day!)  Then it's off to Canada and Germany.  
Click here: Alan Parsons - The Official Website   

I was also taken by the incredible stamina of the band and have to give them props.  These guys gave it all in the first show ... they held absolutely nothing back and had to be physically drained by show's end ... and I honestly didn't see how on earth they could possibly come back and do a second show later that same evening, especially with only about a 45 minute break between performances.  I feel confident in saying that the audience left completely fulfilled (and anyone who wanted more opted for the second show ... and there were quite a few of us that did, I might add!)  Then ... incredibly ... they came out to do the second show, which was even STRONGER than the first!!!  It was nothing short of amazing.  It was as if the entire band was completely rejuvenated ... they were clearly pumped ... perhaps because the reaction had been SO overwhelming during their first performance ... perhaps because the second show was being filmed for what I hope will be a live television concert event. (I still don't have official confirmation on this ... but man, the world NEEDS to see this show!!!)  INCREDIBLE!!!  

There ... I've put it into words ... and STILL don't feel I've done it justice.  Saturday Night at The Arcada was something that needed to be experienced ... and I am SO glad and SO thankful that we were able to be there to do so.  Thanks again to Ron Onesti and the incredible Arcada staff for making this the ULTIMATE in concert experiences.   It truly was a one of a kind show. 

More great reading on The Alan Parsons Live Project can be found here:  
Click here: Alan Parsons releases box set, returns to Cleveland for greatest hits concert - Cleveland Music |   

Great to see you Saturday night at the Arcada. Once again, a 24 karat gold round of applause for promoter par excellence, Ron Onesti.
Seeing the Alan Parsons Project was truly a pleasure.
The "Project" isn't your traditional concert band. They will never be confused with Ted Nugent or Judas Priest.
Instead of serving up meaningless guitar and drum solos, the band lures you in wistfully and creatively with its own special band of rock 'n roll poetry.
That being said, the scintillating guitar energy on "Prime Time" was nothing short of stunning. Make that overwhelming.
Alan, himself, is, of course, a massive physical presence, who's level of charisma is bolstered by his jet black hair and neatly trimmed beard.
While, he is remarkably stoic on stage, his body language tells the audience he is approachable and appreciative. I was delighted to have the chance to visit with Alan briefly during the show's intermission.
One helluva show!!
Alan Parsons Project: 3.5 Stars and counting.
Chet Coppock
Host: Chicago Blackhawks Heritage Series  

Three-and-a-half stars?  For me, on a scale of one-to-ten, this one ranked a solid 27!!!  I have rarely seen or enjoyed a better concert experience.  Even groups who have gone out of their way to "wow" you with theatrics and staging and lighting and special effects like laser beams and spaceships landing on the stage couldn't touch the pure electricity these guys created simply by playing their music.  (Although I will freely admit that I THOROUGHLY enjoyed the lighting, which was exceptional throughout the show ... kudos to whoever was responsible because you did an OUTSTANDING job!)  
"Stoic" is the PERFECT adjective to describe Parsons ... while he doesn't speak much from the stage (and doesn't really appear comfortable speaking at all ... he seems to prefer to let the music speak for itself) ... when he DID talk he was quite humorous and witty ... very entertaining.  He DOES present a huge presence ... and the perfectly-sculpted hair and beard, along with the bright red vest portrayed him as a very proper, old-school British Gentleman.  I would have enjoyed speaking with him, too, but have a feeling he's a man of few words.  I will say this, however ... even after all these years of building the remarkable catalog of music he has established over time, he had to be COMPLETELY bowled over by the incredible reception he received at The Arcada ... this was most definitely an Alan Parsons crowd, who had been waiting a VERY long time to witness the return of their hero.  He did not disappoint ... and had to feel quite gratified and satisfied by what they accomplished on the stage that night.  Thank God we were there to see it ... and I swear we would have sat through a third show had there been one!!!  (kk)