“Rock Hall Three for All” Concert Review

Cheap Trick/Joan Jett/Heart
Starlight Theater
August 15, 2016

Our score: 4 out of 5 Stars

This year the good people at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame righted some wrongs by inducting, among others, Cheap Trick, Joan Jett and Heart into it’s realm.

Some brief “Mike” history: I was in a band in high school and the first song we played together as a group was “Surrender,” so Cheap Trick is a band I’ve seen on many occasions. Like me, Joan Jett is a big fan of the Baltimore Orioles so naturally I’d seen here in the past. The only unknown entity on the bill was Heart, a band I enjoyed listening to as a young adult, especially their rocking 70s stuff.

Cheap Trick took the stage first, with lead singer Robin Zander dressed in white (basically wearing the same outfit as the band wore on the “Dream Police” album cover). Zander was in fine form vocally, sounding much better on the higher notes than he did last year. The band played a few songs off of their new album, “Bang, Zoom, Crazy…Hello” and the crowd seemed to enjoy them. I know I did. They also did some of their classic hits, finishing up with “Surrender.” Musically the band was tight with a special shout out to drummer Dax Nielsen. The son of lead guitarist Rick Nielsen, the drummer very capably filled the shadow left behind by Bun E. Carlos.

Next up was Jett who, at age 58, can still look amazing in a body suit. Like Cheap Trick, Jett and the Heartbreakers played a few new songs as well as some classics, with Jett reaching as far back into her catalog to include “Cherry Bomb,” her hit when with the Runaways. The group finished with a great version of Sly and the Family Stones’ “Everyday People.”

Last but not least was Heart. Ann and Nancy Wilson have been doing this a long time and their rapport worked to their advantage. Too bad their sound people didn’t. For whatever reason, the band sounded terrible. The sound pretty much drowned out Ann’s vocals, which are, of course, one of the reason’s to attend the show. For whatever reason, Ann Wilson’s microphone sounded under-miked, which made it difficult to hear and understand. Oh well, at least if I ever get asked I can say that I’ve “seen” Heart.” Just don’t ask me if I’ve ever heard them live!

Set Lists:

Cheap Trick
1. Hello There
2. Big Eyes
3. California Man
4. Tonight It’s You
5. When I Wake Up Tomorrow
6. If You Want My Love
7. Baby Loves to Rock
8. Stop This Game
9. I’m Waiting for the Man
10. The Flame
11. I Want You to Want Me
12. Surrender

Joan Jett and the Black Hearts
1. Bad Reputation
2. Cherry Bomb
3. Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)
4. TMI
5. You Drive Me Wild
6. Light of Day
7. Soulmates to Strangers
8. Love is Pain
9. Fake Friends
10. Any Weather
11. I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll
12. Crimson and Clover
13. I Hate Myself
14. Everyday People

Heart
1. Wild Child
2. Magic Man
3. What About Love
4. Bebe Le Strange
5. These Dreams
6. Two
7. Straight On
8. Kick It Out
9. Beautiful Broken
10. Alone, Crazy on You
11. Barracuda
ENCORE
12. The Immigrant Song
13. Stairway to Heaven

Theatre Review: “The Bridges of Madison County” Starlight Theater – Kansas City, Missouri

Starlight Theater
Kansas City, Missouri
June 14, 2016

Our score: 4 out of 5 stars

Theatre Review By Mike Smith

1965. In small town Winterset, Iowa, Francesca (Elizabeth Stanley) sees a stranger coming down her driveway. With her husband and children off to show their prize steer at a fair in Indiana, she is at first apprehensive about the man’s arrival. But from the moment she first meets Robert (Andrew Samonsky), a photographer for National Geographic who has lost his way, her life will never be the same.

Based on the novel by Robert James Waller, which also inspired the very popular film starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep, “The Bridges of Madison County” is a faithful adaptation by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning playwright Marsha Norman, opened up a little to provide for more characters and a little humor, which comes courtesy of the various neighbors who can’t help but notice the handsome stranger and his spending time with the married lady.

Winner of two Tony Awards, including Best Original Score, the show boasts some excellent songs that not only set the mood of the show but progress it along. The cast, from top to bottom is well cast. My one problem was Ms. Stanley’s accent. Francesca is supposed to be from Italy, but she is played as a combination of Meryl Streep from “Sophie’s Choice” and Madeline Kahn in “Blazing Saddles,” where “Like” is pronounced “Lock” and “Play” sounds like “Ply.” A small squabble, to be sure, but it was something I really noticed.

As a bonus for our Kansas City readers, you yourself can visit the real Bridges of Madison county by heading north on I-35 for 2 hours. You’ll find Winterset to be a nice little town where you can go into the same restaurant used in the film and sit on the same stool that Clint Eastwood rested his butt on (I’ve done it). It’s also the hometown of John Wayne so men, while you’re lady is looking at the bridges you can visit the birthplace of the Duke! Like the show, a good time is guaranteed for all.