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Stage Buzz – Live Review: Barry Gibb

Barry Gibb

United Center, Chicago
Tuesday, May 27, 2014

With over 200 million records sold, a slot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and radio airplay that includes six consecutive chart-toppers able to endure well beyond the days of disco, The Bee Gees are unquestionably one of the most successful acts in music history. Though critics haven’t always been kind to Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb across their many musical phases, fans have stayed faithful from the late 1950s until today, even as Barry continues to fly his family’s flag solo.

As one of just six dates on an all too limited American tour, the 67-year-old singer/songwriter respectably filled the United Center, and though Robin and Maurice may no longer be with us, the Mythology tour still managed to convey their spirits. Besides naming the show after the group’s 2010 box set of the same name, Barry’s nearly 30 song set list was ripe with Bee Gees hits spanning their baroque pop beginnings, total dance floor domination and later adult contemporary leanings. And to quote one of their most famous songs, the “Night Fever” had no trouble springing to life throughout a moving, almost three hour trip down memory lane courtesy of the leader and a vibrant backing band (including his son Stephen on guitar and periodic lead vocals).

The troupe got right down to business revisiting the days when afros and bell bottoms were just as common as vinyl albums and 8-tracks with the bountiful beats of “Jive Talkin’” and “You Should Be Dancing” inciting an instant dance party. The rest of the night read like a history lesson split between funky flavors and softer sentiments (“To Love Somebody,” “Stayin’ Alive,” “How Deep Is Your Love?”) all with the sole survivor in miraculously well-maintained vocal form.

There were also a few surprises beyond the band’s varied hit parade, such as a country-slanted reading of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire,” the Bee Gees’ somewhat overlooked twilight gem “One,” plus plenty penned for other artists. Both the Kenny Rogers/Dolly Parton duet “Islands In The Stream” and the Barry/Barbra Streisand ballad “Guilty” were recast between the headliner and capable background singer Beth Cohen, along with Barry putting his own sky high spin on “Grease” (first made famous by Frankie Valli).

A glitzy disco ball came down for the ceiling for the remaining Saturday Night Fever favorites, culminating in an encore of the pleading “Words” and arguably the group’s greatest groove “Tragedy.” And if that all wasn’t enough to bring back memories of Robin and Maurice, everyone was virtually reunited on the big screen for the golden great “Massachusetts,” which was perhaps the most fitting tribute Barry could’ve given his brothers to cap off the bittersweet evening.

Though Gibb’s Mythology marathon was definitely all about the oldies without any hints of current musical musings, the fact he’s never toured alone (nor did The Bee Gees come to Chicago anytime this century) made it long overdue. Chances are those who hung on each word will welcome him back anytime, while even skeptics could be convinced the band and man behind so many of its hits deserves some significant credit as a forerunner in shaping several shades of pop music through today.

-Andy Argyrakis

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  1. Patti says:

    Nice review Andy! I have been a fan of the Bee Gees and particularly Barry Gibb since easily 1972. I love their ballads, along with the terrific harmonization the brothers had together. Many fond memories were present Tuesday night as one can’t help but look back in time and recall the 4 other concerts I attended, including one where I got the chance to meet Barry and Mo after the show. I was so very pleased that the audience gave Barry the respect he does indeed deserve for the wonderful volume of work, with so many standing o’s and lengthy cheering! Well done Chicago!!! I spoke with other fans waiting in line, some spent 5 hours driving to the concert, another flew in from Buffalo…so yes, Barry evokes memories in his true fans that are thrilled to have the opportunity of attending his solo concert, knowing full well his heart and ours were filled with emotion over the loses of his brothers, whose presences were very much felt. The Bee Gees music will live on for others to enjoy for a long, long time.

  2. Susan Tyler says:

    Wonderful description of The Mythology Tour!

  3. Turquesa Pigott says:

    I am from South America Montevideo Uruguaty.
    BEE GEES Love, from before birth.

    I am thrilled to see Live BARRY.
    I love him with all my heart.

    My dream would be to see him in South America again.
    Since 1998, BEE GEES saw in Buenos Aires.
    And in 2005 to ROBIN GIBB also in Buenos Aires.

    Thanks for the note BARRY live in USA.
    I see online, and dying of love.

    Thanks for the respect with which wrote about all the brothers.
    Thank you for this opportunity to write to you and tell you freely what I feel.
    God bless BARRY and his family.
    God bless you all.
    Thanks

  4. LAURA TERELL says:

    Awesome show in Philly so you get the best from the best!!!

  5. Elsie hopper says:

    Los Angeles is waiting!!!! Bee Gees, my all time favorite.

  6. David Rogers says:

    Was at the United Center Tuesday night. I couldn’t agree more with Patti’s comments. Couple in front of us was from Waco, Texas and couple beside us from KC, Mo. Barry seemed very relaxed and at ease….truly enjoying himself. He even joked with a front row fan toward the end of the show by saying “are you looking at your watch?” It’s nice to see that humor \ wit coming out of him. I think the tour has gone a long way in helping him work thru his grief and pain. I only wished Sam could have been there and it also would have been sweet had Linda stepped out to greet the fans at the end of “Words”. Still what a night. Never to be forgotten. I hope Barry will continue performing. Maybe he will cut some new stuff reflecting on his healing journey. Could he still pull out one more #1?

  7. Linda Lundmark says:

    I was there in Chicago for his tour.Best night of my entire life! My husband and I waited 41 years for the opportunity! The night was pure magic in every way! I would go again in a heartbeat to see him perform! I will never forget that night as long as I live! Best memories anyone could ever have! He is a true artist of music in every way! Well done Barry Gibb! Please don’t ever stop touring!

  8. J. Holston says:

    I was there at the United Center to see Barry Gibb. Best concert of my life, and I’ve seen many. My husband and I both agreed that it was an incredibly memorable evening. This review accurately reflects the events and emotions of the evening. Thank you!

  9. Ant says:

    Great review, wish I could have been there.
    Always loved the BeeGees. Just one thing in the review made me wonder. You mentioned “Barry putting his own sky high spin on “Grease” (first made famous by Frankie Valli)” as if it was merely a random song he chose to sing. You are aware that Barry Gibb wrote that song, aren’t you?

  10. Mike Aboussie says:

    WOW…….I took my 15 yr old son to see Barry and His crews last @The concord pavilion ( San Francisco bay area) And I left there speechless, Like the rest of us been a big fan for 30 + years and witnesses one of the best shows I’ve ever seen, and my 15 year old son just wishes he could have seen them all ( Beegees) ! Barry Gibb concert well worth every penny and he will not disappoint !

  11. Kim Grussing says:

    Hello! I just wanted to say thank you sooooo much for giving this wonderful man a brilliant review. My sons and I were there that night as well! I am the KIM that gave him the LETTER, and he dedicated the song “How deep is your love” to me right before he sang it! I have video of him saying the dedication and a copy of the letter I gave him. If you would like it. I will share it! :) Blessings! -Kim!

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