Although not the first show of Vancouver’s annual summer fair, soft rock tenor Michael Bolton was the first big international recording star to hit the Summer Nights Concert Stage at this year’s 100th Anniversary PNE last night (Aug. 23). The crooner opened with his hit single Soul Survivor and continued the show with not only his own popular songs but also a selection of showstoppers by Gershwin and Frank Sinatra.
Although his hair might be a bit thinner than the hard rocker who appeared on the cover of 1985’s Everybody’s Crazy, there’s no mistaking that voice. As soon as he grabbed his guitar and dived into (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay, it was clear that this was the Bolton that melts his audience. Bolton came to Vancouver with his full band, which now includes accomplished sax player Michael Lington, along with four background singers and a grand piano and the usual array of musicians.
The show started with some of his more soulful tunes and eventually transcended into a mini big band concert with such sing-along’s as That’s Life and New York, New York. By far the biggest surprise was Bolton’s amazing solo performance of his Luciano Pavarotti duet Nessun Dorma, which both captivated and impressed the audience. He politely dedicated the song to “the greatest tenor the world has ever known” and even included a cute sing-along section for fans to participate in the Italian language opera piece.
Once Bolton kicked into his rockier material, such as Steel Bars, How Can We Be Lovers and Time, Love & Tenderness, he appeared to have a bit more fun on stage and even leaped in the air to end a few of the songs to the beat of his jump. The only thing that was missing from the show was Murder My Heart, his collaborative tune with Lady Gaga., who also happened to be performing in Vancouver at the same time at Rogers Arena.
Bolton ended the concert with BB King’s Rock Me Baby and How Am I Supposed To Live Without You, a song he originally wrote for 80s pop singer Laura Branigan.
Bolton is a world-class singer with an instantly recognizable voice and an astonishing repertoire. It was an honour to see a true popular tenor grace the stage at the PNE.
Upcoming performers for this incredible 100th PNE year include August 24: Loverboy; August 25: Huey Lewis & The News; August 26: Wayne Newton; August 27: Joan Jett & The Blackhearts; August 28: Marianas Trench; August 29: Spirit of the West; August 30: John Hiatt & the Combo & Los Lobos; August 31: Annual Evening With Elvis; September 1: Jesse Cook; September 2: Little River Band; September 3: Cyndi Lauper; September 4: Steven Page; September 5: The Road Hammers and September 6: Trooper.
Photo by Gil Gatchalian