2 November 2015

Royalty of the popular song


Many thanks to BMA for the (re-)discovery that Burt Bacharach is a genius, at least of popular music. It's nothing new or nothing hidden, of course, but to experience of revelation was a huge pleasure. BB came to play on Friday, with his band, at Royal Theatre. I won a competition for tix from BMA so we went and it's not something I planned or expected. There were numerous baby boomers, apt given the price and the period of BB's fame. Looking at his hits, I realise they are placed mainly through the '60s. There were also some respected local musos; we oddly found ourselves sitting behind one. First up, a megahit, What the world needs now. Then Burt introduced a medley ... all megahits. Then a few more songs; all memorable and remembered. Later, a medley of film hits ... you guessed it: works of genius: Look of love, Arthur's theme(When you get lost between the moon and NYC, the best thing you can do is fall in love). Alfie came later as a solo. Wives and lovers was his. So were The Man who shot Liberty Valance, 24 hours from Tulsa, Raindrops keep falling on my head, Do you know the way to San Jose. They all sang his songs: Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, Isaac Hayes, Sergio Mendes, Herb Alpert, Tom Jones, Dusty Springfield, Cilla Black, Gene Pitney, Cher, Shirley Bassey ... everyone. I say a little prayer for you, Close to you, Reach out, Don't go breaking my heart, I don't know what to do with myself, This guy's in love with you, What's new Pussycat. What is this? I know virtually every song and every song was a megahit. And he's just playing snippets of each to fit more into a two-hour set. Nice arrangements; nice, understated but wonderfully correct band; great harmonies from the three singers and some solo voices that nicely match the originals. Great songs. I notice various intriguing twists of harmony or time; the most perfect of intervallic melodies (how good a melody is Alfie!); many clever lyrics mostly by Hal David (. Mark Sutton said afterwards that the drummer (I didn't catch the names) was a top studio player. The band was touring the world with BB. It's the same band you see playing the same songs at Glastonbury 2015 on YouTube. Check it out. Very, very neat. Notably, playing to a new generation before Kanye West appears. New generation? Definitely. Burt Bacharach is touring at age 87 (b.1928). Still going strong. His voice not what it was but the aura and portfolio is as impressive as ever. Obviously I enjoyed it - actually I sat back in awe. Thanks to BMA for this realisation. A popular song composition genius came to Canberra.

Burt Bacharach and his band played at the Royal Theatre. And the band? Three vocals (2xfemale; 1xmale), drums, bass, keys/vocals, trumpet, alto/tenor saxes, violin, another keys, sometimes Oliver Bacharach (son) on piano, BB piano/vocals. I didn't catch the names.

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