“To do justice to the Rascals importance, I’ve written a show for them that is just as unique as they are. It’s called “Once Upon a Dream”. It’s a combination of a Rock Concert and a Broadway show that will include their own live performance by the original four Rascals — Felix, Eddie, Dino, Gene, and be complimented by filmed segments and news footage and will be a show that they can take all over the country. The show will be an uplifting inspiration for the fans that have been waiting all these years, praying for a Rascals comeback, and those who are younger will get a real taste of the ’60’s they missed the first time around. More than just a comeback or reunion, the show will remind audiences how uniquely inspirational, entertaining, and historically important the Rascals’ music is. Their music was unique not only in its greatness, but through their hit singles they told the entire story of the sixties.” - Steven Van ZandtI'm not completely buying the weighty importance angle, but I loved the Young Rascals and I am really looking forward to hearing them perform. Their three-week April Broadway run was hugely successful, critically and financially, apparently giving the contentious quartet reason to stand each other's guts for a bit longer to take this thing on the road.
A few weeks ago, I was mentioning to brother Joe that the Rascals were coming to Mohegan Sun at the end of August, but he was a no-can-do with golf league commitments (really?). A quick schedule query finds the Boston gig, so we make plans and add Sister Mary Agnes (no, not the nun, the sista) and hubby Craig to the mix. We convene, pre-concert, in Somerville on Saturday mid-afternoon. Niece Elizabeth serves up tasty marguaritas (thanks on that, E) on Joe/Nancy's back deck; we order up Italian, delivered; Rascals on the iPod. We've been lonely too long, so let's do this!
Nancy calls for a cab and we pack the geriatric six-pack into a SUV for the trip into town. The driver inexplicably follows Joe's directions, but we make the needed corrections and land safely and join the mature-looking crowd in the lobby of the Opera House, which has been very nicely restored. We can find no bars in the heavily-under-construction area, so we wait. Doors finally open; we order up a round of wine/beer and search for our seating - orchestra, right side boxes.
I guess the deal is that this is a 'bio/concert', using video clip interviews to provide historical context to the live music. Cool announcement that photos, videos, etc are allowed, even encouraged (please note, Mr. Zimmerman)! The stage explodes with light; there they are - Eddie Brigati (vocals), Felix Cavaliere (keyboard, vocals), Gene Cornish (guitar) and Dino Danelli (drums). A young bass player and some backup singers are to the right side of the stage. The almost-sold out audience is pumped. The show starts slowly. I'm worried this is to be a disappointing evening. However, when Felix launches into Lonely Too Long showing his vocals in fine shape, I'm, at first, relieved, then, I'm all in. They start a run through the Young Rascals' songbook. The interview clips tell us of the connection with Joey Dee & the Starliters (Brigati's brother David was an original Starlighter and Brigati, Cavaliere and Cornish had previously been members). It's effective, on a limited scale. Brigati plays no instruments, so he is reduced to Mr. Tambourine Man (hey!) on Felix's solos, looking a bit weird. Cornish has a few guitar solos, Danelli, well, is the drummer (yeah, they are all influenced by Buddy Rich, Max Roach, etal) - sorry. To me, it's all about Felix - and he's good!
Smokey's Mickey's Monkey? The Marvelettes' Too Many Fish in the Sea? WTF? If you want to do covers, do Mustang Sally and/or Midnight Hour. Whatever. ONE, TWO, THREE - Good Lovin'! That's what I'm talking about! Crowd up, cheering, dancing. The hits keep coming. Groovin', It's a Beautiful Morning, A Girl Like You. Brigati is a bit shaky, but ultimately touching on How Can I Be Sure. The video tells us (with no details) of a post-60's heart-wrenching breakup due to jealousy, drugs, sex, bad financial advice. OH MY GOD, that has NEVER happened before to rock 'n roll bands- EVER! Okay, this isn't a history class, it's rock 'n roll, so no biggie. Really good show. Back to Somerville for nightcaps and reviews. I was about to compliment our driver on his Sam Cooke music selection, but nixed that thought when it switched to Kenny Rogers.
Only beef: NO Mustang Sally.
Comment emailed in from West Haven (the Jersey Shore of CT) by the legendary Westie Punk Gussy P:
"Danelli had a big drum solo called "Boom," I think I mentioned that to you once before. It's on side 3 of a double album (Freedom Suite, I think). I don't suppose they played that. I realize Max Roach may have influenced him, but don't discount the Hal Roach influence. Can't ignore the Little Rascals, can we? I believe the fact that they demanded that a black group be allowed to perform wherever they played affects how they are perceived by historians. At least that's how I remember it"
|View from orchestra section looking up to balcony|