The concert kings of 2009 so far? Air Supply ... seriously
Pick your favorite Air Supply cliche for last night's concert in Tampa. The crowd was lost in love. Graham and Russell were the ones that we love. Even the nights are better with Air Supply. After it was over, all we were left with was sweet dreams.
Corny, but ridiculously true: Air Supply in concert is an EVENT that's not to be missed. You wonder why the soft rock duo was been around for 35 years? Catch them live, and you'll seriously want to throw down with anyone who snickers at the music. Here are some highlights from Friday's show at Tampa's Ritz Ybor.
SOFT ROCK? NO WAY: After a 10-minute long video (showing the concert setup and the boys backstage), Russell Hitchcock and Graham Russell took to the stage in front of a full house at the Ritz Ybor. Someone forgot to tell them they're a soft rock act. With a backing band of musicians half their age (all of whom could back up Axl Rose in a pinch), the boys launched into a heart-thumping take on Sweet Dreams. They followed it with Here I Am, Even the Nights Are Better and Just As I Am. All renditions were true to the original, but performed live they take on new, more powerful life.
HARD DRINKING CROWD: Maybe it's because the show was in party-hardy Ybor City, but the crowd was well lubricated and boisterous. Ranging in age from the mid 20s to mid 60s, not a soul (well except me) was without a tall beer or mixed drink in hand. Seriously, I've been to heavy metal shows that are far more sober than this one. But Graham and Russell seemed to get a kick out of it. At one point, the three bubbly ladies in front of me noticed something going on near the bar and asked, "Is that a fight ... at an Air Supply concert?!?"
ALL HAIL POWER BALLADS: After an intermission (which always seem odd to me), Russell and Graham returned and starting banging out one hit after another. The One That You Love was particularly memorable because they ventured into the audience to sing, stopping every three feet to pose for a photo with fans while never missing a note. It was surprisingly touching, particularly considering the arrangement on the song was tweaked every so slightly to give it a more majestic feel. It just felt newer somehow. Same goes for Lost in Love and Every Woman in the World -- both of which seemed far from soft FM, but still faithful to the original versions.
SHOWSTOPPER: Since when did Making Love Out of Nothing At All become an anthem? It was the highlight of the night, with Graham pounding the cymbals of the drums and the entire crowd on their feet singing along. Midway through the song, the leggy blonde in front of me yelled, "Graham, I want you inside me!" I nearly choked on my bottled water.
THE FINALE: All Out of Love ... as the finale? It totally worked thanks to an electrified version of the chorus and ... a drum solo. Yes, a drum solo ... at an Air Supply concert. Seriously, you should have been there. What else was more important last night?
BACKSTAGE: After the show, I visited with Graham and Russell backstage. They were clearly still really energized by the crowd. Russell was drinking wine with his young girlfriend on his arm while we talked about the show and our earlier interview. He's about the easiest going guy in the world, happy to talk the old days and flirt with the pretty faces. Graham was curious about Ybor City so we talked about the historic party district for a while. I left them so they could go please the meet-and-greet VIPs waiting outside.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I had my doubts, but the Ritz Ybor is a fantastic concert venue. Just get there extra early because the box office line moves SLOWLY. As for Air Supply, seriously, wow. I never thought I'd wax on so long about a concert like that. But it was simply epic. If there was anyone there last night that didn't have the time of their lives, then they really are all out of love.