Sunday, June 25, 2017

Aaron Neville concert review

The Toronto Jazz Festival is back. In the past the festival has had concerts spread out across the downtown district including the Mainstage at City Hall. This year they have decided to have most of the concerts in the Yorkville district. Back in the 60s, Yorkville was a major music hub with plenty of folkies singing in coffee houses. I can't tell you how many nights I spent at the Riverboat doing artist interviews for a radio show I had at the time. So returning to Yorkville is a blast from the past. Some of the bigger concerts are at Koerner Hall on Bloor St. and they are also reviving 888 Yonge St. at Davenport. It's a heritage building that began as a Masonic Temple. It was also known as The Rock Pile in the 60s. In recent years, CTV used it as studio space. But they sold the building and it is being called Concert Hall. I think the building is more suited to rock than jazz. But Danforth Music Hall gets most of the rock acts that come to Toronto. Who knows what will happen after the festival. They have also set up free concerts at three outdoor stages. Last night I went to see legendary singer Aaron Neville at a stage set up at Yorkville and Belair. BTW, the nearest subway station is Bay but it is not accessible. So I used Yonge Station. I will return to this theme in a few days. Of course Aaron Neville is best known as part of the popular group The Neville Brothers. Back in the 60s he scored a hit with his signature song Tell It Like It Is. But on small labels he wasn't able to make a living in music until he started working with his brothers in the late 70s. They had hits with songs like Yellow Dog and Sister Rosa. But his biggest success was his 1989 duet with Linda Ronstadt Don't Know Much. Neville's latest album Apache is on his own label. Neville wrote and produced it with Eric Krasno of Soulive. On this show, he was accompanied by a pianist. There was no band. Neville sang some of his own hits including Tell It Like It Is and Don't Know Much. But he also sang plenty of oldies like This Magic Moment, A Change Is Gonna Come and Stand By Me. At one point, Neville said he has so many songs in his head, he gets them mixed up. That reminded me of when I saw New Orleans music legend Irma Thomas a few years ago. She brought this big binder on stage that had all her songs in it. Neville had a set list but he did some medleys and he was improvising on the fly. The pianist did a great job keeping up with him. I have been a big Aaron Neville fan for years. I have always wanted to see him and thanks to the Toronto Jazz Festival, we got to see one of the world's great singers for free. I have two more free concerts to attend this week. Stay tuned.

1 comment:

  1. Glad you had fun and enjoyed Aaron Neville so much Frank. Sounds like you a great time and enjoyed your "work". It's always good when you get to see your favorite performer or group and they do not disappoint, but lift your spirits.