Luckman Fine Arts Complex, Los Angeles
Dec. 17, 2011
Multi-Grammy award winner Aaron Neville had the collective audience at the Luckman Fine Arts Center in Los Angeles swooning last Saturday night. The New Orleans soul singer took the stage with an energy that nearly caused all the women in the audience to faint. The Rico Suave R&B star looked better than ever, as he waltzed on stage wearing a fitted back t-shirt that showcased his body builder-esque physique.
What was most engaging about Neville's performance was his stage presence. For a man who will be 71 next month, he moved around on stage as if he were in his 30s. Not only did he move around like a young'un, but the man looks as if he were in his late 40s or early 50s! On top of that, he still has a voice that is as charming as ever. No doubt he will be making music for as long as he lives.
Neville was joined on stage by his quintet, made up of a guitarist who shred, an extremely energetic drummer, an incredible bassist, a wonderful keyboardist and a mind blowingly soulful saxophonist. Neville's quintet made the covers, slow jams and Christmas songs absolutely phenomenal.
Neville's performance was captivating--never mind that I'm not a big R&B fan. Many songs from the 50s, 60s and 70s, as well as some classic Christmas jams, inspired his set. The soul group incorporated covers of the well known songs "Stir It Up" by Bob Marley and the Wailers, "Stand By Me" and "This Magic Moment" by Ben E. King, and "Everybody Plays the Fool" by The Main Ingredient, which had the crowd cheering and singing along through out the set. Neville also sang popular Christmas songs such as "White Christmas" and "The Christmas Song," which created a cheerful ambiance in the theater.
At one point during the set, Neville read a poem that he had written about the struggles of the people in America doing everything they can to keep from living on the streets during these troubling economic times. It was a simple yet touching depiction of what people in our country are dealing with, which received some loud heartfelt "Amens" from the crowd.
After playing for about an hour Neville and his quintet took a 15 minute break, which not only allowed the crowd to get some fresh air, but it also gave Neville time to freshen up and have time for a costume change. Once the show resumed, the soulful muscle man returned to the stage in a white button down long sleeved shirt and belted out the beautiful Christmas song "O Little Town Of Bethlehem," which once again, captivated all of the women in the audience.
As the end of the set neared, the group appeared as if they were going to walk off stage to end the performance when the drummer initiated an encore cheer by running around the front of the stage chanting "One more! One more! One more!" Neville spared the crowed the typical "pretend the show's over" encore routine that most performers do, and said laughing, "I was going to come back and sing a few more anyway!" During his encore Neville sang the song "Amazing Grace," which caused the women who were sitting behind me to scream "Oh! How beautiful!" And beautiful it was.
It was clear by the thunderous applause and standing ovation that the audience did not want him to go. But after a hefty two and a half hour set, Neville and his quintet exited the stage by singing "Now it's time to say good bye to all our company M-I-C-K-E-Y (why? Because we love you!) M-O-U-S-E" the audience responded by singing along and cheering loudly. Definitely a cute and creative way to end a lively set.
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The Crowd: Mostly people in their 40s, 50s and 60s.
Critics Bias: I went to the show with my mom who was ecstatic to see Aaron Neville.
Overheard in the Crowd: "He is my favorite! He is my faaaaaaavorite!"
Random Notebook Dump: I hope I look as good as Aaron Neville when I am 71!