Sunday, July 26, 2009

Let Freedom Ring

Ahhhhh, the joys of DVR. I can flip through the grid at my leisure. On July 4, we were camped out at the local parade, then watching fireworks in the evening. So it took a while to get back to "A Capitol Fourth" for the official YBA take on it. ;-)

Barry's opening was simple - the kind of simple that comes from arranging songs and medleys for decades. He transplanted the opening medley from the old Music and Passion show (plus Copa, minus most of the catwalk antics) into the opener for the DC July 4th show. Barry's really familiar with this, so it's routine for him to get pumped up, and get the audience going in turn. It worked just as well on the Mall as it did in Vegas. Even Kye and the girls had it relatively easy - just throw their current costumes in a suitcase with a toothbrush and they were good to go. The audience was the most fun to watch. No one (except for the stiffs on the blanket right down front) worried about whether they looked "cool" and didn't care if anyone saw them rocking out to "It's a Miracle" on national TV.

Think about this: whether anyone realized it or not, each one of the songs was something everyone knew the words to, or at least some of them. They were all fun. They were all something you'd let the kids listen to and have fun with. Even something as openly erotic as "Somewhere in the Night" is considered a family-friendly part of the routine. These hits have become as much a part of Americana as July 4th itself. Off the top of my head, I can think of a dozen musicians that would give their right testicle for ONE song to reach that kind of status, let alone enough to fill a 90-minute set.

Back to the audience. Is there a Federal ordinance somewhere that requires the first couple of rows at any major concert to be a bunch of stiffs that may not be serious fans and are not reflecting the energy back to the stage? I saw a few of those in the front row in Atlanta last year, and the blanket in the wide aisleway of the Capitol Fourth concert was full of them. I can understand some older folks being a bit more understated but as I've heard Barry's concerts described in the past, "It's not a fucking funeral!" Just get up and move some, I promise it won't kill ya!

I love it when Barry either gets off the stage, or brings someone up to dance. It's a thrill for them and the rest of the audience lives vicariously through it. At least a couple of women weren't shy (or weren't afraid of getting their toes stepped on, whichever) about getting up to dance. Then he turns his attention to the Blanket Stiffs and they stare at him like a giraffe at the National Zoo. If Barry ever asked me to dance, he wouldn't have to repeat himself. Best of all was when he went the extra mile to dance with the little girl (about 10-ish?) who was watching with her folks. Kids are more unpredictable than the obsessed and menopausal set so I'll give him extra points for that move. It's too bad he's had to drop that part of the act from Vegas.

Food for thought: The symphony and chorus were backing up Barry's performance. Did he get to boss around Erich Kunzel in front of his own orchestra? If so, how much did he enjoy it?

The feel of "Let Freedom Ring" in the closer was warm and heartfelt and Barry seemed to be truly moved by the opportunity to perform this song here. There was more for the audience too - the piano was moved back behind the VIPs to the Peanut Gallery (where the real fans were roped off from the expensive seats) and they got to see him up close. This sequence reminded me of the older shows: where Barry could stroll through the audience without being grabbed, mauled, tripped, or whatever by people who can't behave. Everyone just enjoyed the interaction and let it go at that.

Even though Barry's appearances were short (and followed by the Muppets......) this is the kind of show I never get tired of and could see over and over. Nice, relaxed, exciting at the right times, and we could appreciate a human being on the stage, rather than an object or icon. It's a beautiful thing. 8^D

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