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My take on the Chicago Show


Stevie

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Well first off and foremost I thought the concert was absolutely fantastic. As an original fan from the early 70’s, to be able to see the original lineup live and in great form was something I could have never imagined. I’m sure I speak for a lot of us here when I say that whatever the motives of the band are for re-grouping what they have ultimately done is provide their long legion of fans with the greatest gift imaginable……….the chance to see them perform. I know that I won’t ever forget it.

What follows are my random comments and observations presented in no particular order.

Will be hard to forget the opening video followed by the wild burst of sound that is the opening of I Wanna Be With You and then the curtain parting to reveal the Raspberries. You would have to be a small town Florida boy like me who never had a prayer of seeing the Raspberries live in the 70’s to appreciate the thrill of finally, (thirty plus years hence), seeing them in person.

I am an unabashed Eric Carmen fan and he was always my favorite in the group, mainly because it was his songs that I liked the most on the albums. Seeing him live, even if an older version, was a great thrill. While it was obvious to me that Eric’s voice is not what it once was I have to admire that he didn’t drop from the set those songs that would tax his voice the most. Frankly, I didn’t really expect him to hit all the tough notes and didn’t feel the songs were compromised because of it. Part of being a fan is that you allow for the failings and shortcomings and realize that even a 55 year-old representation of the 22 year-old fixed in your mind is still a helluva thing to behold. What does bother me though are the postings from those who claim that Eric still hits all the notes when even he has admitted (note his comments about that during his Hall of Fame performance) that he can’t. Even a casual observer of his performance would see many instances when he didn’t even attempt to hit the notes and relied on Jennifer, et al to do it for him. Again, I don’t fault him for this and don’t consider it a big deal but I am baffled by those who continue to not state the facts. In fact I got a nice chuckle from Jennifer when I complimented her on her contributions after the show and told her that I could see where Eric was coasting at times because he knew she was there to pick up the slack.

The first highlight of the show was Don’t Want to Say Goodbye. So great to hear just Eric and Wally without much more than a single guitar and piano. Also liked Wally’s intro about “writing the song over the phone.†This was just a knockout of a song that sounded as good if not better than the original. It was obvious from Wally’s comments after the song that this one is dear to his heart and he was truly bothered by comments (from those unnamed) that the song should be dropped from the set. He ended up by saying as long as we wanted to hear it he would keep playing it. If he’s reading this I can’t state strongly enough that this song HAS to stay on the set list. BTW, if anyone noticed, the set list showed I Saw the Light and DWTSG in the same slot so it appears that it was a showtime decision as to which one of the two would be played.

I liked the covers although I think they could improve on Can’t Explain. Ticket to Ride has always been my favorite Beatles song and I know that they have been playing that song in their act forever and I always wondered what it would sound like so I was glad to finally hear it. No Reply is a perfect song to highlight the Eric/Wally harmony singing and Needles and Pins is the knockout that most said it was. We all know the story of how Todd (Runt) Rundgren copped a major hit for Grand Funk with Locomotion after hearing the Berries do it in concert. Would love to see them trade Can’t Explain for it.

Was fortunate enough to share our Opera Box with some great fans: Laura (and sis Donna), Susana (and friend Karen), Eric H. and Marilyn (and even Merchandise Man who we invited up for a look) which made the whole experience that much more pleasurable particularly when witnessing the reactions of everyone after they were knocked out by certain songs (witness Susana after I Can Remember). Besides having a fantastic view of the stage it also provided me with a great vantage point to observe the packed crowd and all the bobbing heads and dancing bodies. The Drysdales and their family and friends were in the two boxes next to us and they were all thoroughly enjoying the show. Also got a chance to meet Gina (who gave me a nice underserved hug) and Blackhawk Pat after the show. Two real nice people.

Wally’s guitar mastery was amazing but I felt robbed on certain songs (e.g. Ecstasy) as to my ears the guitar wasn’t as prominent in the sound mix as it could have been. Wally’s guitar is such an important component of the songs, particularly on the Side 3 tracks, and I was really set-up when listening to the songs for the great solos and was left a bit flat as the sound wasn’t upfront where it belonged. Also, I have never like Party’s Over but this song was absolutely fantastic live and Wally’s vocals were virtually identical to his performance on the disc. I’ve got to play this again now on disc and see if I was wrong all along about this song.

It’s Cold Outside is really a great little tune and I was surprised to hear Dave on lead as I never knew all that much about the tune. Dave showed some vocals talents that I didn’t know he had. What puzzled me though is that he didn’t provide any background vocals on the tunes as it seemed that entire role was tuned over to Billy, Paul and Jennifer.

Overall I think the ballads came off better than the rockers which really surprised me. DWTSG, ICR and Overnight Sensation were all absolute show stoppers. Was also surprised by how songs that I have never particularly liked on disc sounded so good live. The back-to-back play of Drivin’ Around and Crusin’ Music was an ingenious idea and sounded great.

As if the show wasn’t enough, my wife and I were able to meet and chat with the entire band after their performance. Jim was the first to come by and short of a quick hand shake and thanks from my compliments he didn’t say much and moved quickly along. Billy was next up and we had a nice chat and I mentioned how I saw him give an enthusiastic gesture after playing the guitar riff on Ticket to Ride. Billy said he played the riff Paul McCartney had played on the tune. I also complimented him for his guitar work on DWTSG which is a pivotal part of the ending of the song. I spent a lot of time watching Billy and he really covers a lot of guitar work that one might think Wally was handling if you didn’t look real close. I found Billy to be a real down to earth and engaging guy and wished we could have chatted some more but Wally was getting ready to walk right by me and I didn’t want to miss my chance (sorry again Billy). Shook Wally’s hand and told him how great the performance was and what big fans we were. Wally was very nice, very matter of fact and was soon besieged by others. Jennifer was next by and was very friendly, (I mentioned earlier a comment I made to her) and she said that besides the background vocals she felt like she was a real musician and I noted how she was one of three people on keyboards during ICR. Was getting ready to ask her about her unique frontal tattoo when I spied Dave and Eric enter the room so never found out whether it was permanent or not. Anyone know? We walked over to meet Dave and he was just the most friendly and down to earth guy. I asked him why he didn’t sing Should I Wait and he put his hand on my shoulder and leaned in close and said that they forgot to put it on the set list!! What a great moment that was! It was like two old friends sharing a laugh, that’s how down to earth he was. I told him that based on his comments during the show that I thought they had decided to play Makin It Easy instead of Should I Wait but he said no that they just plain forgot to put it on the list. I expressed my disappointment and said that it would have been one of the highlights of the show which I’m sure he appreciated hearing. Last but not least was Eric who was still complaining about the heat. Some gentlemen approached him and told him he needed to make an appearance in a certain room (where I think Bernie had assembled some people) and Eric said “Is it cooler in there?†Had to wait my turn but was finally able to shake his hand (he had to move his cigarette from his hand to his mouth to shake my hand) and tell him how great the show was and how we were longtime fans. Eric was very gracious and appreciative. My wife told him what a great dresser he was and how he added a lot of class to the proceedings with his natty attire and shiny shoes and he seemed to get a kick out of her comments. We eventually got a picture with him (BIG thanks to Susana – hope the picture came out good!) and said our goodbyes.

Couldn’t have asked for a better evening.

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I don't know, but to this 45 year old, Eric and everyone else sounded nothing less then perfect!

I was enamoured in finally seeing one of my music heroes live after 30 years! The friend I was with kept grabbing me by the shoulders when they started a song she knew was one of my favorites! I sang along so much that at I had to stop, 'cause I felt myself getting hoarse...

Jeff

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I'm with you on this one, Jeff.

Stevie...I guess I'm probably one of "those people" you're talking about when you speak of those who have commented on Eric's vocals. I said it once, and I'll say it again, his vocal performance was outstanding ! I've been fortunate enough to be at both Cleveland shows, as well as Chicago this past weekend, and in my opinion, although I was blown away in Nov., Eric's vocals were even stronger in Chicago. happy

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Stevie, a great candid and honest post. You are obviously a fan.

I understand your comments regarding Eric and the high notes. I think if you had been to the first two concerts you would then understand the comments from those of us who have attended all three shows. Eric's vocals were exceptionally strong in Chicago. His best vocal performance of the three. Sure he can't hit all the high ones. I didn't expect him to be able to do it. Truth is I am blown away that he hit 99% of everything he attempted. What is interesting to note is how amazingly accurate Jennifer's vocal 'fills' capture the exact tonality of Erics high range. So accurate in fact if you are not watching him you can't tell he isn't hitting them. She is able to preserve the essence of the Raspberries sound.

Personally, I don't care if Eric can or can not as long as he knows which ones he can or can not hit - and I can assure you he knows. That's why it all sounds as good as it does.

These guys are just amazing. I can't wait for the next winkwink show.

Don't be a stranger, post often. We know your comments are not meant to be taken as negative. As you get to see other shows winkwink you'll come to truly appreciate what these 55+ guys are accomplishing. It's MAGIC!

Ted

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For those of you who don't know me....I AM A FAN...and have been for more than 30 years. I am blown away by Stevie's post - Ted summed it up well in the first sentence in his reply. I also agree with both Ted and Stevie about Eric's vocals...his voice was incredibly strong, sounding as good as it ever has in the shows I have seen over the years. But those high notes were always a terrific strain for him and, frankly, I worried about what that strain would do overall as he did more shows over more years. I am glad that Jennifer is there to take over those notes, and also that she blends so perfectly.

I'm with Stevie about "Don't Wanna...". Wow...better than I ever dreamed it would be. And, yes, this Razz Fan, was in sheer heaven during "I Can Remember". I think I even said that the song was the reason I made the trip....maybe an exaggeration, but definitely in the forefront of my mind the whole time.

I wish I wasn't so tired...lol...I'm just this side of rambling, so I'll stop while I'm behind and pick up again soon...: )

Off to sleep again soon with the iPod set to - gee, I wonder what?! - and dreams of another concert soon!

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To all -- I posted on the Raspberries site, but wanted to post here as well. My best friend, Linda and I traveled up from Florida for the Chicago show. We were fans in the 70s and saw the Raspberries during the Starting Over tour. We met them a few times and had awaited anxiously for their reunion. What a thrill to see them live and hear the old tunes again ... and to see the original and true Raspberries perform together. We were fortunate -- absolutely lucky -- to get to meet them after the show. We met so many wonderful people -- Marvin (you rock), Gina (you are precious), Pat, Jennifer, Ted, Jason, "Jack Black" and so many others -- who came from all over the country. What a thrill! Razzies come to Orlando, please! We love you!

Ann Marie (and Linda) from Orlando & Jax

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Ann Marie and Linda,

As a reforming lurker myself, I knew it would not take too long to see you on this board.

I enjoyed our sing-along in Chicago. My wife is new to the Raspberries so she can't sing along just yet. So it was great that you joined me in singing our favorite songs.

KC

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