Concert Review: Flashback to the Eighties With Paul Young
Atrocious stage lighting and a restless audience couldn't stop Paul Young from giving a superior performance at the Wiltern on June 12 . Half the show was below average (by Young's standards), but "Love of the Common People" and a string of other songs clicked and the distractions suddenly weren't so distracting anymore.
In England Young's status is right up on the charts with the likes of Culture Club. In this country he may be best-known as the guy that sings before Boy George on the Band Aid record but he's got the basics to be a major star here as well. He's got a classic bluesy voice, virile build and big dark soulful eyes, but he couldn't tour last year so was unable to capitalize on the success of his No Parlez album.
This tour can't afford a bad part, and tonight Young's voice began as rough and incomprehensible--not in good voice, along with that miserable spotty lighting. Then his a capella rendition of Sam Cooke's "Cupid" changed everything. He went through his best songs (penned by Los Angeles music vet Jack Lee), "Come Back and Stay" and "Sex" (that included a verse of FGTH's hit "Relax" thrown in). Here he hit notes beautifully, throwing himself and his mike stand at the female portion of the audience--and of course graciously accepting their flowers and teddy bears. It was a seductive and sexy (but not tacky) finale. The momentum built up and carried him through his encores, "Broken Man" and his current single, "Every Time You go Away," which could be his much-needed breakout American hit.
One of the reasons the momentum picked up was that Young's backing band, The Royal Family, was finished showcasing themselves. They're no match for Young's showmanship and they amounted to just one more distraction.
As for those other distractions--some restless members of the audience apparently insisted on standing (not even dancing, not even watching) for The Royal Family and made anyone with a seat behind them wish for comfortable shoes (or that the idiots would sit down). However, the award for Egomaniac of the Evening goes to that atrocious visual lighting crew, who must have had fun flashing powerful spotlights directly into the audience's eyes all evening long. Next time you guys want to light up the audience--turn the house lights on!