Review: Paul Shaffer’s First Symphonic Show Was A Hit
At the beginning of his first symphonic show, Paul Shaffer said something just the opposite. He invited everyone over this his apartment for an evening of wonderful music. And it definitely was.
What made it special was, while it was a walk down memory lane, with Shaffer sharing memories of seeing the Beatles on Ed Sullivan (with the rest of the planet) and many of the other early influences on his life and career, it was also his choice of songs for the evening. It wasn't the biggest hits, but the songs that meant the most to him.
The evening started with an early 70's classic, Barry White's Love Unlimited Orchestra's "Love's Theme" (White, another music producer, writer and arranger working with an orchestra) which segued to "Cast Your Fate To The Wind", an early 60's instrumental, which is not a song that you might expect to hear now almost 50 years later, and certainly not overplayed on oldies radio. The was followed by another song that unfortunately would fall into the category of now being obscure, Jack Nitzsche's "The Lonely Surfer".
Along the way, Shaffer told stories like Terre Blair, Marvin Hamlisch's widow, who pushed him to do a symphonic show, but also tip of the hat to Hamlisch himself for writing the Leslie Gore hit, "Sunshine, Lollipops".
The first set wrapped with the 1990's haunting "Bittersweet Symphony".
The second half brought to the stage, Valerie Simpson of the legendary writing duo, Ashford and Simpson. And she led off the second half with maybe her greatest hit, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" followed by "You're All I Need To Get By" and "I"m Every Woman". And she showed off her vocal chops with "Stay With Me Baby" from "The Rose".
Shaffer had some fun with the only hit he wrote, with Paul Jabara, "It's Raining Men" and , wrapped up with two lesser known, though powerful songs, from producer Phil Spector, The Righteous Brothers' Just Once in My Life" and Ike and Tina Turner's "River Deep, Mountain High" with Simpson matching the power of Turner on the Spector classic.
Shaffer also noted he grateful he flew in his longtime TV band mate, guitarist Felicia Collins, whose voice really helped, for lack of a better term, fill out, some of Shaffer's vocals.
It was a good evening at Miller Auditorium, and those who will see Shaffer's subsequent symphonic shows are in store for a fun experience. What stood out for this reviewer was Shaffer's musical choices; not necessarily the biggest hits, but some of the greatest songs.