Hit after hit!
by Wade Gibbons
The concert really featured “the soundtracks of your life”. And everyone in the Garfield Sobers Gymnasium last Sunday who would have been between 15 and 35 years old in the 1980s when Air Supply were churning out hit after hit, could relate in some way to almost all of the songs the 38-year-old group performed.
Surely the duo, both now over 60 years old, could be renamed Hit Supply!
And while the night belonged to the Australian act, the Barbadians stamped their musical authority on the impressive looking DB Productions’ stage, dominated by two large screens at left and right, to make viewing the action considerably easier by those seated too far from the front.
Opening act Nexcyx is racking up important moments in their short history. With a number of local hits under their belt, they’ve ironically gained international recognition after winning the Ryan Seacrest online contest for Best Maroon 5 cover of Moves like Jagger (2013), and the MTV Iggy Artist of the Week (2011).
The youthful band indicated a maturity both in their dress (conservative but classy black jackets and white shirts — worn even by fashionista lead Mahalia herself!!!), as well as their performance, by understanding the occasion and played a set that delivered on their promise of “something old, something new and something Nexcyx”.
The hour-long set included originals like Take a Minute, Queen, Everybody on the Floor and Gossip Girl, and equally passionate covers of Michael Jackson’s Rock With You, Billie Jean and Human Nature, and Prince’s Purple Rain. Guitarist Russell Padmore put his own mark on the Prince iconic solo.
Nexcyx also provided the backing for two other performers, Tamara Marshall and Marisa Lindsay. Marshall’s three-song performance revealed that her still wonderful voice is deepening with the passage of time, yet remains an incredible instrument that secures her position of one of Barbados’ best vocalists. Her selections of two originals written by Jim McGowan provided a too rare opportunity to hear the quality of her own work, and she also chose what is now for her an iconic cover of Imagine, that rendition arguably her best of it.
One of the most charming things about Marisa Lindsay is her realness and boy did she let it flow in her performance of two originals from off her second album Deeper Love. Rocking a 70s ’fro and wearing an Avark kaftan, she further cemented her diva status on the local stage. A vocal coach through her Sayluv school that boasts students like Livvy Franc, Vita Chambers, Mahlia, Callum Wright and Vizion, she is taking time to record a third album to be titled Lovely and favoured the audience with the world premier of the live version of Watchugondoo.
The three local ladies teamed up to give a riveting performance of Lady Marmalade, originally by Patti Labelle and the Labelles, that brought the Bajan part of the show to a rousing close.
The prelude was good, and the headliner was greater if only because of the body of work, near four decades of shared history and friendship and over a dozen global hits that the Air Supply duo have created. Launching right into their set, singer Russell Hitchcock and songwriter/guitarist Graham Russell G dropped three songs back to back before effusively greeting the Barbadian audience. They were completely believable when they said it was good to be back as they hadn’t performed here since 1999.
The band drew from its arsenal of modern classic love songs that remain great music because of their timeless themes and melodies, enchanting and haunting harmonies, characterised by deceptively simple arrangements. Songs included Even the Nights, Just As I Am, Every Woman, Here I Am, Power of Love, Two Less Lonely, The One That You Love, Lost In Love, Making Love and All Out of Love. The two are still in very fine voice, and their sound is enhanced by four youthful band members, the keyboard player, Amir Effrat deserving special mention.
Perhaps the only song that would have been unfamiliar to the large audience was Graham’s The River, on which he played electric acoustic guitar, accompanied only by Efrat. The four-member band definitely won the hearts of the audience during the 10-minute version of Making Love, when, in an ode to the impact of reggae on global music, it smoothly slipped into serious one-drop reggae and segued back into the soft rock tear-jerking 1983 ballad. The entire concert was a sing-along, but certainly a favourite moment in the concert came when both singers walked through the audience, interacting with adoring fans and even pausing for quick photos, all while singing. Naturally, the set ended with Air Supply’s biggest hit, All Out of Love.
Show producers, Universal Entertainment has launched itself with a hit concert which started promptly at 8 p.m. Very appropriate pre-show music was by Anthony Nelson Jr, while CBC Radio 94.7 announcer Admiral Nelson was the evening’s host. The Rotary Club’s inclusive play project is a beneficiary of the show, and president Sonia Alleyne expressed her gratitude to UE and Air Supply for choosing that charity.