ROY ORBISON TRIBUTE
Last night we attended a tribute concert to Roy Orbison. It capped off a week long of events surrounding his contributions to music. The Rock N Roll Hall of Fame sponsors these yearly, in association with Case Western Reserve University.
The event was not quite a concert. Peers, contemporaries and industry were all there to comment on Roy's work and to introduce the artists would cover one or maybe two of his songs. The curtain came down between almost every song. Very variety show style. I can't say I am a huge Orbison fan - but I liked three of the artists that were participating, which is why we actually went. I knew a few of the others and one or two I just had no idea who they were.
Raul Malo started off the night with "Only the Lonely". For those unfamiliar w/Mr. Malo, he was the lead singer from the now defunct group The Mavericks (and now a solo artist) who can channel Roy in away that Chris Isaak has that ability. His rendition of "Only the Lonely" was dead on - but not in a cheesy copy-cat kind of way. He came back later to sing "Leah".
The folks I wanted to see, thankfully, were the better performers: Mandy Barnett (someone else who had an incredible voice!) doing a killer version of "Blue Bayou" and an ok version of "It's Over'. Patty Griffin struggled at first with her songs, but really ended up pulling them off.
Some of the other performers were just ok (Tift Merritt, the Velvets(?)). The Crickets were there too - minus Buddy Holly, of course. For the longest time I thought it was just a muddy soundboard and the engineer couldn't get the mix right. But with a few artists, who were so clear, so good - I realized that it was most likely some iffy artists...or no sound check!
There were two surprises - one good, one.....not so much. Glen Campbell was the last performer of the evening. I wasn't sure how to feel about that. He did an passable version of "Crying". I mean - he's not Roy (or k.d. lang or Isaak), but it was ok. He did though, nail "In Dreams". I didn't see that coming.
The other thing I didn't see coming was some of the performers using lyric sheets....including most of them on the finale (all performers came out for that song): "Oh, Pretty Woman". I'm sorry - but you've been asked to do this. You've been confirmed and it's been advertised out there for months. Take the frickin' time to learn your ONE song!
It got so bad on the last number that finally Raul Malo just took over and ended up singing the last half of the entire song himself. The only other person not needing notes was Barnett. It had to be an embarrassment to the Hall of Fame folks and the Orbison family (who were there). You almost wish Van Halen were there to do the song (I said almost!)