When it comes to music, I’ve pretty much seen and heard it all. From the Toronto Symphony and KISS to Willie Nelson and Van Morrison, or iconic artists like Metallica, The Rolling Stones, Prince and even the charismatic Stompin’ Tom Connors, they all fill my musical cache. That personal concert history is quite deep and so far, spans about 35 years.
Every show brings up a different memory, and some more than others, have left an unforgettable impression that has in some way altered the course of my life. Last night at The Colosseum in Windsor, Tony Orlando did just that with one of the most inspirational performances I’ve had the pleasure of seeing. For anyone that’s had a dream, his words throughout the show were rousing rushes of proof that anything is possible.
I know what you’re thinking – and it’s a bit like I felt earlier in the day – Tony Orlando is a 1970s bubblegum pop star singing hit songs like Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree and Knock Three Times, how can that be inspirational? And that may be true in some ways. Those campy hits are at the forefront of his image, but after watching Orlando and his band perform for nearly two hours, there’s much more substance behind the man than those songs could ever reveal. It’s actually the man himself who’s changed lives. Even iconic WWE wrestler The Brooklyn Brawler, who was in the house, had an outburst of emotion during the show, which eventually led to an embrace with Orlando in one of the best guy hugs ever!
Orlando performed two shows on Thursday (Aug. 10) and may very well be the oldest performer, at 73 years of age, to headline back-to-back shows at The Colosseum. Each show had its own unique presentation and vibe though. The earlier show was a little softer and catered to an older crowd, while the evening show was a bit more in the classic Vegas style and opened with Orlando at his rockin’ best.
He pulled the hits out early. Within the first 20 minutes we heard Tie A Yellow Ribbon, Knock Three Times, Candida and Sweet Gypsy Rose. At that point, the floor was open to anything, and with that, Orlando gave us his world.
He wasn’t afraid to feature his band, including drummer Tim Pope who started hitting everything from floors, monitors and stools, all while keeping a beat during a cover of Paul Simon’s You Can Call Me Al. Another highlight was when Orlando shared the spotlight with his long-time musical partner Toni Wine, who performed a few of the famous songs she was involved in, including The Archie’s Sugar Sugar, A Groovy Kind of Love (made famous by Phil Collins and The Mindbenders) and even the infamous Meow Mix commercial featuring the unforgettable lyrics “Meow, meow, meow, meow…”.
The band members didn’t stop there. Orlando also gave Kerry and Tracy Cole opportunities as well. Tracy performed a passionate gospel number, while Kerry wowed the crowd with impersonations of performers like Willie Nelson, Led Zeppelin and Waylon Jennings.
Orlando’s voice was clean for the first half of the evening show and eventually conked out near the end, but he admitted that he was having a rough day right from the start. Despite the vocal issue, he was committed to being there throughout the show and give it his best.
One of the finest moments in both shows revolved around the song You Are So Beautiful. In the first show, he performed the song with one of his female fans, hugging and dancing with the very happy lady. In the second show, he sang the song for the gentleman who drove him from the airport to Caesars – it just happened to be his 60th wedding anniversary that night and Orlando brought the man and his wife on stage for that unique anniversary gift of all anniversary gifts.
If you’re a dreamer like me, Tony Orlando can be the fuel to help light that fire to help make those dreams come true. He masterfully conducted this awesome six-piece band through rousing and very passionate songs, not only telling his own life story and musical history, but inspiring his audience along the way.