Tuesday, 17 January 2017

A Black & White Night with Roy Orbison & Friends reviewed by Denni Ruskin

Roy Orbison's comeback began in 1986 when his beautiful song "In Dreams" was used in the creepy David Lynch film Blue Velvet. Virgin records snapped him up and got him to re-record other classic singles such as "Pretty Woman", "Crying" and "It's Over" for a Greatest Hits compilation. A year later "The Big O" was inducted into The Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame by Bruce Springsteen.
Bruce told the crowd: “I’ll always remember what he means to me and what he meant to me when I was young and afraid to love...In 1975, when I went into the studio to record Born to Run, I wanted to make a record with words like Bob Dylan, that sounded like Phil Spector’s production, but most of all, I wanted to sing like Roy Orbison. Now, everybody knows that nobody sings like Roy Orbison.” 
The Boss was right - the voice of Roy Orbison is unique - he was the best.
Later that same year Springsteen would join Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, K.D. Lang and others to play alongside Orbison and a house band made up of musicians who'd known Roy since his days on Sun records. Roy's magical powers hadn't faded and he could still sing like an angel.
The venue for this celebratory concert was Ambassador Hotel's Cocoanut Grove night club  in Los Angeles and there are a few celebs in the audience such as Billy Idol and Patrick Swayze. The concert is filmed in an artistic, soft,black and white. The house band feature celebrated musicians who were part of Elvis Presley's "Taking Care of Business" Vegas band. When Springsteen attempts to trade licks with them it's obvious he's not really in their class. Elvis Costello meanwhile spends the evening pretending to be John Lennon. It's amusing to hear his shouty backing vocals on "Pretty Woman", he plays harmonica on both "Candy Man" and "Uptown" and livens things up with some wild organ playing in "Down The Line." K.D. Lang sings beautifully and is a joy to hear. Tom Waits lingers in the background, strumming an acoustic guitar and looking cool. Maybe he's wise not to attempt a duet? Clearly a big fan, Waits explains: “To me, his voice sounds like the wind forming words and being sent to you from across time. There is something so tender, so private about his voice, it confides feelings you keep mostly to yourself.” 

Astonishingly 3 decades have passed since the legendary night of the concert.The Black & White night now comes with a 33 minute documentary and a new version of "Blue Angel." The musical director of the concert was legendary producer T Bone Burnett. The set list includes new material written by Costello and U2 as well as all the hits. It feels like everything about this project was done perfectly. Any Orbison fan (lonely or not) will love this concert. It's a gem. Viva Roy Orbison.  
Text by Denni Rusing 2017

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