Before the Concert
I’m looking forward to seeing Joe Cocker in concert again. I’m reading he was in Romania five times so far, four times in Bucharest and once at the Golden stag Festival in Brasov. I only saw him in 1995. He was the main act in a concert that also included Eros Ramazzotti and Rod Stewart. It was a hot August day on the National Stadium, and I had arrived there with friends sometime around noon, to make sure we got spots near the stage. The concert was a big deal at the time, when we were only beginning to receive the world’s greatest rock and pop performers in Romania after decades of Communism.
This time his concert is at Sala Palatului. Not a stadium (he still fills them though: see here the list of concerts on his Fire It Up Summer Tour), not even Romexpo, where the concert was originally scheduled, but still a large venue (4,060 seats; and, after all, all size and type of venues are great for an artist like him and his audience). I look forward to his performance and that of his backing vocals – both were fabulous in 1995.
After the Concert
Ah, where to begin! My first reaction was literally "These people don't get old!" Meaning some of the great musicians out there. He didn't age a bit between 1995, when I first saw him, and this time. Sure, his face changed. But his voice and stage presence remained as powerful as before. Yes, for those of you out there wondering, he still plays air guitar a lot. Keyboard, too.
He was in great shape. After he sang "You Are So Beautiful," with no backing vocals, the crowd got wild. The girls were wonderful, too. There were three female backup singers, one of which also played guitar. We heard two of them in short solos on "Up Where We Belong" (one of the girls; she sounded very different from Jennifer Warnes -- that's the great thing about duets recreated in various concerts) and "Cry Me a River" (the other girl, who throughout the concert did a couple of Tina Turner moves).
The band was great, except for the drums in one section of "With a Little Help from My Friends." They just weren't right: the wrong kind of loud dull (as opposed to reverberating) sound.
Joe Cocker opened with "I Come in Peace," a song from his latest album. The concert was one hit after another. Even the new songs from the Fire It Up album, interspersed between old-time favorites, seemed like old hits if you judged by the warmed-up crowd's reaction. People also appreciated the Fire It Up songs for what they were on their own, especially "You Don't Need a Million Dollars."
The surprise song was, for me, "Come Together" -- the Beatles song ("here come ol' flattop, he come groovin' up slowly . . ."). He did a really good job, yet again, with a fabulous Beatles song. (I had never heard Joe Cocker sing this one -- although, from what I see now, he has been performing it quite a lot.)
The whole concert lasted 1:45h, including the 10' encore ("Summer in the City" and "Cry Me a River").