Great performances at An Evening with Michael Bolton
For fans of Michael Bolton, the 30-minute band change between Tarrus Riley’s triumphant exit from stage last Saturday night and the start of Bolton set was perhaps the longest half an hour of the concert titled An Evening with Michael Bolton.
Finally, after the musicians took their places and all photographers and working media were cleared from the front of the stage and barriers erected, the moment they were waiting for arrived. It was heralded with a drum roll and a voice announcing at 11:51 p.m.: “Ladies and gentlemen, Michael Bolton.”
Screams erupted from the souls of his fans who were comfortably seated on the lawns of Couples San Souci at the sold-out concert. The stage went from black to light – not too bright – to reveal the 70-year-old rocker standing firmly with his guitar ready to roll with patrons who were supporting the Issa Trust Foundation’s charity event.
The multi Grammy-Award-winning singer, songwriter, and social activist, who has sold more than 65 million albums and singles worldwide, opened his set with Stand By Me, and he soon assured his fans that they could “feel free to take over”. They had already done so.
Among the songs he chose for the patrons, including dignitaries such as patron of the event, wife of the governor general, Lady Patricia Allen; Prime Minister Andrew Holness and his wife, Juliet; and Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange; were three of the covers that he has made his own – Love Somebody, originally by the Bee Gees; Otis Redding’s (Sittin’ on) the Dock of the Bay; and Bob Dylan’s Make You Feel My Love. He pulled for Said I Loved You ... But I Lied, which the audience took over and subsequently got the biggest forward for the entire night when he drew for “the most important single released in [his] career”, How Am I Supposed to Live Without You?.
During his set, Bolton called on one of his back-up singers to duet with him, left her alone to entertain the audience, and returned at 12:33 p.m., refreshed. And while the majority of fans were too caught up in the moment to reflect on anything other than just being in that space with him, there were some who voiced concerns that Bolton’s presentation was a bit lacking in animation. That aside, however, the general consensus is that Bolton’s more than one hour on stage was magical.
His closing songs were When a Man Loves a Woman and Soul Survivors, but as expected, the fans wanted more.
Early in the performance, Bolton took the time to hail the Issa Trust Foundation “for the wonderful work they are doing for the children” and sent heartfelt condolences to the family of the late Tina Turner.
Mr Singy Singy, Tarrus Riley, also paused to remember Tina Turner and big-up the foundation for its project, the Mary Issa Health Centre, which will be built in Richmond, St Ann, and serve as Jamaica’s first primary-care facility dedicated to children and adolescents.
Dressed in white shorts, jacket and sneakers, Tarrus Riley, as well as his band members who were all dressed in white, was giving cool, resort chic. But his performance was pure fire. By the time he was finished his hour-plus-long set, Tarrus was was drenched. Faced with a comfortably seated audience, it was not the easiest thing to get them out of the chair, but Tarrus was clever.
He asked the prime minister, as the leader, to “lead by standing up”, which Holness did, and soon, the entire audience was on its feet, singing and dancing. Tarrus had a treat in store in the form of his daughter, Tsehai, who he brought on stage to sing just one line of Lighter, his No. 1 collab with Shenseea. Ever the proud father, he stated, “I don’t show off with myself, but I will show off with mi kids.” Tsehai’s one line bussed the place.
His song selections included Wantie Wantie, Lion Paw, Rivers of Babylon, God Bless the Children, Stay With You, She’s Royal, Gimmie Likkle One Drop, and, of course, he did his own inimitable freestyles and also a face-off with saxophonist extraordinaire Dean Fraser. The audience loved it as each tested the musical skills and fortitude of the other and a sea of firesticks lit up the night as Tarrus made his presence felt and he gave Dean a chance to “blow down di place”.
He also paid his respects to dancehall deejay Boom Dandimite, who died two Sundays ago.
“Boom was mi bredren. Mi did know Donovan fi true. When I was starting in the music business and wanted to deejay and do whole heap a dub, Boom used to help mi ... him and Bling Dawg. Mi used to see dem round a Jammy’s studio with mi father [Jimmy Riley]. A lot of people out there in the audience probably don’t know who Boom Dandimite is, but mi did haffi big him up,” Riley said in a post-performance interview.
On his performance, he stated,: “When me do dem show deh with Michael Bolton and foreign act, me feel like is a World Cup and me a represent Jamaica. Mi nah compete, but me a seh ‘Our music’ ... so yuh know, we haffi shine.”
Advertised opening act Ky-mani Marley entered centrestage at 8:54 p.m. and did a 45-minute set that had all the essential elements – his own songs, a few from his father Bob Marley’s catalogue, and the icing on the cake was a group of children from the Bob Marley Primary and Junior High accompanying him on One Love. Ky-mani represented well and had the women singing Rasta Love word for word.
Opening the concert was Noah Issa, who did a short tribute to his great-grandmother Mary Issa.
Hosts for the evening were the popular entertainers and vloggers The Mitchells, Tami and Wayne.