Monday, May 7, 2018

A Triple Play Concert Review

We spent a good portion of this past weekend rockin’ out to the sounds of The Ides Of March, The Box Tops and Chuck Negron, formerly of Three Dog Night …

So today we’ve got a Concert Review Triple Play to share with you!


THE IDES OF MARCH - Thursday, May 3rd - The City Winery

The Ides of March put on another outstanding show at The City Winery Thursday Night - a two-set affair that really showcased the depth and talent of the band.

Photo courtesy of Janet Takayama - City Winery House Photographer

The evening kicked off with more of an acoustic set, which gave the band the chance to play a selection of material that isn't always featured at an Ides show.  It really gave them the chance to show off their incredible harmonies … and provided the atmosphere for more story-telling as Jim Peterik and Bob Bergland traced some of the history of the band.  

It was a very loose set … very relaxed with quite a bit of clowning around, which showed another side of The Ides that you don't always get to see.

Photo courtesy of Joyce Palulius

After a short break, the band came back (as Jim would say) Full Metal Jacket … and rocked the house with a series of tunes that never let up.  Along the way, they were able to showcase some new material, proving once again that they very well may be the Last Band Standing and much more than a nostalgia act.

By the time they got around to their big finish, the whole audience was up on their feet rockin', dancing and singing along, fists high in the air as the band ran thru an absolutely killer .38 Special medley ("Caught Up In You," "Hold On Loosely" and "Rockin' Into The Night"), the likes of which got one of the biggest responses I've ever seen, followed by the show-stopping, one-two punch of the closers "Vehicle" and "Eye Of The Tiger."  At that point, I think even Jim would have to admit that he had given everything he had to give.

Next year the original four members of The Ides Of March (Jim Peterik, Larry Millas, Bob Bergland and Mike Borch) will celebrate their 55th year together, an amazing run for four guys from Berwyn who got together in Larry's garage for the first time back in 1964 as young teenagers.  (Jim explained that one day Larry knocked on his door, said "Your band sucks - why don't you come join my band" … and he hasn't looked back since.)

After the show they all sat at the merchandise table, signing anything fans wanted to buy, including CD's, calendars, copies of Jim's book and, incredibly, bottles of Ides Of March Wine!!!  (Kinda perfect for a City Winery show, don'tcha think?!?!?)  You can also purchase this material thru the band's websites:

A great show - a great time - a great band.

Hi Kent,
Wow, what a show The Ides of March put on last night at City Winery!  Jim Peterik was on fire as he sang hit after hit, and Larry Millas has his beautiful voice back!  Incredible how these guys keep getting better all the time.  I never get tired of seeing the choreography on one of my favorite songs, You Wouldn’t Listen.  Thanks so much for the winning tickets.  My friend Cindy and I thoroughly enjoyed the evening … great food, great wine, and I even purchased a bottle of Ides of March wine.  Naturally I had it signed by all the guys.  
I was recording when Jimbo made his tribute to the great Dick Biondi, but apparently my phone was full and I got nothing --  Bummer!  If anybody captured it, will you please ... pretty please with peanut butter on top of a pizza … send it my way? 
Thanks again, Kent …thanks, Jimbo and the Ides, and thanks, City Winery!
Pam Pulice
Director, The Dick Biondi Film

That was Fantastic!
Even better than we expected …
WHAT energy and what a great Chicago, Suburbs yet, story.
Realized I HAD of course seen Ides of March at a Sock Hop or something in the early 70's. Batavia or Aurora schoolz, but have wanted to see his Arcada Xmas shows for some time. 
WHAT amazing energy and musical professionalism for 50+ year
The acoustic ballad treatment first of "Is this Love" followed by adding
other Ides of March originals and then layering ALL the extra horns
and sax at the end was Fantastic! 
The purple hair just fits … didn't even renotice it until the end with backlights, like it's been there forever. Maybe it has. 
Thx again,
Bill & Jan

Hi Kent!  
Thanks so much for coming to the Ides show ... so glad you enjoyed it! We are trying to have more confidence in our deeper cuts and newer songs. It’s time! 
The Winery is a good place to make music ... I only wish I had named checked you when you were actually there. Lol!!  
Anyway, thanks for all your phenomenal help with your great site. I know it’s a ton of work keeping the flame alive, but it is much appreciated by all. 
Voice is ok this morning. By the grace of God. Lol!  

THE BOX TOPS - Friday, May 4th - The Arcada Theatre

We ran our interview with the original Box Tops Bill Cunningham and Gary Talley (along with Musical Director Rick Levy) last week in Forgotten Hits … so I was looking forward to seeing them perform in concert Friday Night at The Arcada Theatre.  (We saw The Box Tops … along with Chuck Negron … perform as part of the Happy Together Tour last year but in that environment, each artist is only allowed to perform four or five songs, so it’s usually restricted to their biggest and best known hits.  I was looking forward to seeing the band do a complete set of music to see what else they had to offer in the way of that soulful Memphis sound of the ‘60’s.)

Suffice to say they did NOT disappoint.

Photos courtesy of Luciano Bilotti - Arcada House Photographer 

The band performed a top-notch set of material … not only their own hits but several other tracks that exemplified the whole “Memphis Sound” of that era … all pulled off perfectly to a very enthusiastic and receptive audience.

They are able to capture the feel of this era because they lived it … growing up in Memphis, exposed to the whole vibe, they are able to take the audience along for the ride and make them feel it, too.
Their Top Five biggest Top 20 Hits were all presented in excellent fashion … “Cry Like A Baby,” “Neon Rainbow,” “Choo Choo Train,” “Soul Deep” and “The Letter” all sounded as good as they have ever sounded, augmented by a small horn section and accompanied by some great story-telling by Bill Cunningham who, we also learned along the way, played bass on Isaac Hayes’ #1 Hit “Shaft”!!!  (Bill’s dad played percussion on some of Elvis Presley’s Sun Studios recordings … and his brother B.B. Cunningham sang The Hombres’ big hit “Let It Out” in 1967.) 

The vocals were traded off nicely and geared toward the best vocal range and singing style of each participant.  As such, we got to hear Gary Talley covering some of the more gritty vocals, Bill Cunningham adding a slightly softer touch to their sound and Manager Rick Levy putting his all into other Memphis hits like Roy Head’s “Treat Her Right” and B.B. King's "Rock Me Baby."  (At one point, Bill even handed his bass off to Rick so that he could take over the keyboards and perform the Booker T. and the MG’s classic “Green Onions.”  Now if THAT’S not Memphis soul, I don’t know what is!!!)

 Bill Cunningham

Gary Talley

 Rick Levy

All-in-all, a very satisfying show … and one definitely worth seeing.  (Backstage after the show, Rick and Bill were telling me that they’re working up an arrangement of “Sweet Cream Ladies, Forward March” to be added to the set.  I would love to see them do “I Met Her In Church” and “I Shall Be Released,” too, as these are two of my VERY favorite Box Tops tracks.)

A highly recommended show … and if you somehow missed our interview with The Box Tops last Monday, here’s the link again …

Upcoming Box Tops concerts dates can be found here:

Thank you, Kent, and all the Illinois fans who came to see us and the great Chuck Negron at the Arcada Theatre.  It was a wonderful evening of music and camaraderie.  The consensus I heard over and over again ... "It’s great to see the Box Tops performing again ... I didn’t realize what a great band you are ... or the history you have."
Here’s a stage shot with Bill Cunningham’s impressive video presentation of THE BOX TOPS' history and Memphis 60s music scene.  I’m singing lead so it’s either Treat Her Right or Rock Me Baby, both recorded on Box Tops LPs.
Rick Levy,
BOX TOPS manager / guitarist

CHUCK NEGRON (formerly of Three Dog Night) -
Friday, May 4th - The Arcada Theatre

The plus side of seeing Chuck Negron outside the confines of The Happy Together Tour is that you get to hear a WHOLE lot more great Three Dog Night music … and Chuck ran through the bulk of their hit catalog on stage at The Arcada Theatre Friday Night.

Photos courtesy of Luciano Bilotti - Arcada Theatre House Photographer

He kicked the show off with “Family Of Man,” a long-time favorite of mine (and the one that stuck in my head for the bulk of the following day!)  It didn’t really matter who handled the lead on the original recording, they all sounded great as Chuck presented tunes he didn’t get the chance to sing before like “Shambala,” “Never Been To Spain,” “Eli’s Coming,” “Liar” and “Out In The Country.”  (Of course he saved HIS biggest hits for the end … “One” and “Joy To The World” closed the show … but he also did his beautiful ballads “Easy To Be Hard” and “Pieces Of April” ... while fan favorites like “Celebrate” and “One Man Band” were also represented.

Chuck looked great and although he did have to pause a few times to take in extra oxygen, he was still able to belt out the songs in fine fashion.
I had hoped to pick up an autographed copy of his book “Three Dog Nightmare” but they had completely sold out before the show even started!  (Guess I’ll have to order it online instead … I held off, hoping to get one at the show.)

You can order your copy here, too … and it’s a GREAT read … one of the best rock star bios I have ever read, in fact ... and now greatly expanded with eleven new chapters and over 100 new photos.

Chuck was very relaxed and entertaining on stage … lots of jokes and kidding around and, at one point, a bit distracted by a front row audience member whose boobs were evidently falling out of her top.  (“Oh my God, look at those breasts!” Chuck exclaimed before eventually asking her to please cover up!!!  Ahh … the life of a rock star!!!)

Probably not as glamorous a situation today as it was in the ‘70’s … but then again I imagine ANY guy would have to be a bit cautious about over-reacting to such a display after his penis exploded … read the book!

[Aside:  How do you know you’re getting old?
Two guys are at Hooters having a drink and ogling the scantily-cad waitresses and the first guy says, “Which one of these girls would you most like to be stuck in an elevator with?”
Second guy replies, “I dunno … I guess the one that knows the most about fixing elevators.”]

But I digress.

Great show … great double bill.   

Chuck Negron is back on the Happy Together Tour this year with Mark Lindsay, The Association, The Cowsills, Gary Puckett and the Union Gap and The Turtles (with Ron Dante filling in for an ailing Howard Kaylan) … show dates for that tour can be found via the link below.

(No Chicago stop scheduled as of yet for this year … Effingham, IL and The Milwaukee State Fair seem to be the two closest locations for 2018)