Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Lou Christie

Third time's the charm!   

Twice before we've had tickets to see Lou Christie and BOTH times the concerts ended up being cancelled ... a HUGE disappointment because Frannie and I have ALWAYS enjoyed Lou's music and his incredible voice.   

For a while there it looked like Sunday's Show at The Little Italy Italian Festival in Addison, IL, was also in jeopardy.  All week long they had been forecasting severe thunderstorms for this event, a beautiful outdoor set up packed with great food, drinks, novelties and music.

But at the last moment they took all of the rain out of the schedule.  (Of course the moment they did that it then proceeded to rain for about two hours Sunday Morning!  lol)  And then, at about ten minutes before noon, the clouds parted, the sun came out, the temperature leveled off at a perfect 75 degrees with a nice cool breeze, and we headed out to catch the show.  Without a doubt, the Weather Gods were smiling on Ron Onesti this past weekend as he was able to offer PERFECT weather along with several days just jam-packed with fun and entertainment for his Little Italy Festival.

Lou doesn't make it to Chicago very often but this show was well worth the trip.  (In fact he told me that he was heading home right after the show.)  He played to a VERY receptive audience who on multiple occasions gave him standing ovations.  (Lou quipped from the stage that a standing ovation means SO much more to him today than it did during all his "hit years" ... because he knows how much harder it is for all of us to stand up now!)

Lou's voice was in fine form throughout his performance.  (The first question everybody asks when you have an entertainer with such a distinctive sound is "Yeah but can he still hit the notes?  Does he still sound like himself?")  I am happy to report a resounding "YES!" to both of those questions ... although it can't be easy!  (Christie turned 72 earlier this year but you'd never know it to listen to him sing.  Like I always say, when you've got it, you've got it!)  He was spot on vocally from start to finish.

ALL of the hits were represented including "the dirty version" of "Rhapsody In The Rain", "The Gypsy Cried", an extended version of "Two Faces Have I" that allowed the members of the band to show off their individual musical skills a little bit (all the more amazing since this was a pick-up band put together specifically for this show here in Chicago ... kudos to musical director and drummer Ron Wilson for assembling such a tight-sounding outfit, who rehearsed for all of one hour before the show started ... these guys ROCKED!  Absolutely NO ONE in the audience would have been any wiser than to think they hadn't all been playing together for YEARS!), "I'm Gonna Make You Mine", "Beyond The Blue Horizon" (my personal favorite) and, of course, his show-stopper "Lightning Strikes", a #1 Hit from early 1966.

All in all, a very enjoyable show ... and we're hoping that Lou will take Ron up on his offer to return to The Arcada Theatre for another extended show.  (Lou, if you're reading this, I guarantee you that you will absolutely LOVE this venue ... and will want to make it one of your "regular stops" for years to come.)  With acts like Neil Sedaka and Paul Anka already booked to play The Arcada in the coming months, Lou Christie would be a PERFECT fit.  Here's hoping they can pull it together.

Speaking of which ... now HERE's a guy who would make the PERFECT addition to next year's Happy Together Tour Line-Up.  (Are you reading this, Flo and Eddie???)  Let Lou come out and do his four or five biggest hits and the audience will go nuts!  (Check out the Lou Christie Hit List below!)

I am happy to report that we met up with dozens of Forgotten Hits Readers on both Friday Night and Sunday Night ... so thank you all for coming out to see these great shows.  Very special thanks to FH Reader (and major Lou Christie fan) Shelley Sweet-Tufano, Lou's Musical Director Ron Wilson, Lou Christie's personal assistant Kathy Morris and, of course, Ron Onesti for getting us back stage after the show for a brief visit with the star of the show, Mr. Lou Christie, who was very familiar with our work here in Forgotten Hits.  It was a real treat.

Frannie snapped this photo of us back behind the stage where all the trailers were parked ... and here are a few photos I took with my cell phone of Lou and Company on stage.  Arcada Photographer Luciano Bilotti sent us a few professional shots as well.  Great time ... great concert.  (kk) 

Me and Lou after the show
(photo by Frannie Kotal)


Above Eight Cell Phone Shots
by Kent Kotal
(yeah, we had GREAT seats ... 
And the beautiful, sunny day didn't hurt either!!!) 

The Bronx Wanderers closed the show all three nights ... our first chance to see them and it was quite a treat.  (Readers have been telling us for years that we've got to check these guys out.)  They REALLY blew us away on Sunday Night when they opened with a medley of Bee Gees hits followed by a few songs by The Beach Boys ... all spot-on renditions that we hadn't experienced at their earlier performance on Friday while we were there to see Jay and the Americans.   

As for Jay and the boys, my two-word review is simply ... VERY disappointing ... especially since I had just seen them last year when they opened up for Peter Noone and Herman's Hermits at The Arcada and witnessed a near-perfect show.  It must have been something in the air Friday Night ... (The Bronx Wanderers didn't sound that great either on Friday ... but more than made up for it with a stellar show on Sunday Night) ... or perhaps Jay III wasn't feeling well ... but key notes were being missed throughout their set and the harmonies that were SO impressive the summer before in St. Charles just weren't making it here in Addison.  I honestly felt bad for them ... and really felt let down as Frannie had missed their show last year and I was really anxious to show her how good they sounded.  Sadly, it was a major disappointment.  Hey, ANYBODY can have an off night ... one spectator at the concert told me that he had seen Lou Christie four times before Sunday's show, including a couple of shows where his voice was just completely gone.  He said he asked Lou why he went on when he knew he couldn't sing and Lou replied, "Because I didn't want to let down my fans who paid to see me" ... to which this audience member replied "So instead you let them down by giving them a bad show that they're now going to remember as what Lou Christie sounds like today ... and, worse yet, report their findings to all their friends!" 

It's a fine line ... and, let's face it, it isn't getting any easier as we're all getting older.  We want to preserve those "perfect memories" but we still want to see our musical heroes and relive those memories one more time.  Jay and the Americans are capable of putting on a top-notch show because I've seen them do it ... it just didn't happen Friday Night.  And Lou Christie can still bring the crowd to their feet when he sings the way he did on Sunday ... and we loved it!  (kk)

Some GREAT shots courtesy of Luciano Bilotti (who even caught another one of me and Lou backstage after the show!)  Man, what a difference a good camera makes!!!  (lol)  Thanks, Lou ... as always, GREAT stuff!!!

1963 - The Gypsy Cried  (#15 National / #EX Chicago - NOT #1 as Lou stated in concert)
1963 - Two Faces Have I (#3 / #1)
1963 - How Many Teardrops  (#41 / #19)
1965 - Lightning Strikes  (#1 / #1)
1966 - Outside The Gates Of Heaven  (#45 /#17)
1966 - Rhapsody In The Rain  (#16 / #14 - on WCFL - for all of Lou's fond memories of the station and disc jockeys like Dick Biondi, WLS was instrumental in getting this record banned on all of the ABC Radio Stations across the country!)
1966  Painter (#73 / #xx)
1967 - Shake Hands And Walk Away Crying  (#95 / #22)
1969 - I'm Gonna Make You Mine  (#5 / #2)
1974 - Beyond The Blue Horizon  (#72 / #xx)