Reviews of shows from the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts and other local venues published by the Los Cerritos Community News. The writer and paper are in their twentieth year of covering these events.

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Location: Fear City, Ca., United States

"My name is Addison DeWitt. My native habitat is the theater. In it I toil not, neither do I spin. I am a critic and commentator. I am essential to the theatre - as ants to a picnic, as the boll weevil to a cotton field." George Sanders in "All About Eve"

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Warped Tour

Warped Tour 2007

By Robert Vega

The 13th Annual Warped Tour arrived at Los Angeles’ Home Depot Center for the final stop of its 45 city tour, once again bringing the best punk and alternative rock to acts to perform for a sweaty yet eager group of music fans. This festival is unlike any other in that it has over 8 stages and the only posted schedule is in front of one of the main stages, so most of the fans wander aimlessly from stage to stage often asking others “what band is this?” The good thing about this is that many people get to find otherwise unheard of bands performing on the obscure small stages and often those bands become the “next big thing.”
This years lineup was brought traditional Warped acts such as Bad Religion, Circle Jerks and Pennywise, and as usual, mixed them in with mainstream “teeny bopper” bands; Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Sum 41 and Boys Like Girls, all of whom have their respective fan bases.
Traditionally the warped tour chooses its line-up randomly so every band has a chance to either open or close; this is something that keeps their egos in check. The infamous Fishbone were one of the first performances of the surprisingly overcast day. Their ska and punk mixture had the early birds jumping and singing along to their cover of Sublime’s “Date Rape.” At one point trumpet player John McKnight leaped over the barricades and began swimming above the crowd.
Over on the Ernie Ball stage up and comers Jameson were tearing through a set of Pantera inspired heavy metal, complete with concert t-shirts, ripped jeans and long hair.
East Coast natives, Bayside were one of the most anticipated performances of the day and they delivered a massive wall of sound while crowd goers moshed and crowd surfed their way to the front of the stage. Guitarist Jack O’ Shea was in complete control of his domain, giving the young musicians in the crowd a detailed blue print of what a true rock guitarist should be.
The fans are always the main attraction at the festival. All walks of life come out of the woodworks to celebrate a style of music that has refused to die out. With the day’s temperatures only reaching 90 degrees (some year’s it was past 100) many fans were able to dress freely and truly express themselves through fashion. Tattoos and mohawks were prominent but guys in girls jeans and “guy liner” were also alive and well. Warped even came complete with its own barber this year. Sometimes just walking around the grounds soaking in the scenery of people is just as entertaining as the bands themselves.
The most compelling performance came from New York’s Coheed & Cambria who for years have pushed the envelope and created some of the most elaborate and intriguing albums to ever come from the genre. Front man Claudio Sanchez led the band playing a guitar that looked like its previous owner was a wizard, and with the return of original bassist Michael Todd (who left the band earlier this year for personal reasons) they conquered the main stage with a ferocious urgency.
As the sun set and the final bands took the stage, the people behind the scene packed up their tents and gear for one last time this summer and could go home with one word on their minds…accomplishment.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Trisha Yearwood September 24

Welcome to the Big Time:
Trisha Yearwood at Cerritos

By Glen Creason

Watching Trisha Yearwood sing is like admiring Tiger Woods play golf or Michael Jordan play basketball. She just sort of sings at the level others just gaze upon with mouths agape. The self-effacing young woman has one of the most powerful and expressive voices in all of music but projects a down home manner that makes her easy to love and great to listen to. And how she can sing! In one of the very best juicy slices of music to ever be served at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts La Yearwood gave us sixteen absolutely wonderful tunes, showcasing that towering voice and a band lead by a truly great guitarist named Johnny Garcia. By the third song in the set, a tremendously moving “This Song Remembers When” I had to say to myself “this is the reason I love country music.” At its best the genre gives us insight, emotion and simple lessons. Trisha Yearwood embodies all of those qualities but elevates the material with her extraordinary vocal gift. Possessing a stack of gold records, number one hits and a marriage to probably the most successful country singer ever the lady from small-town Georgia has never got a above her raising.
This was no weepy, barroom honky-tonk session but a lively, rather raucous at times performance that overflowed the boundaries of just Country and Western music. There were the C&W chart-toppers like “An American Girl,” “She’s In Love With the Boy,” “Thinking About You,” and “Believe Me Baby, I Lied” sung with pipes that not only could reach the back row of the hall but the peaks of the San Gabriels. If Trisha Yearwood was not so good on the rockers you might suggest that the lady was just born to sing ballads like the utterly exquisite “Georgia Rain,” the bittersweet “Walk Away Joe,” that transcendent “This Song…” and the swelling “Try Me Again,” all of which had audience dabbing at their eyes. As a seasoned pro Miss Yearwood introduced some delightful sounding new stuff including “Cowboys Are My Weakness,” and “They Call It Falling for a Reason” along with old up-tempo pulse-quickening material including “Pistol,” “Wrong Side of Memphis” and the lid-lifting “Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love.” The show closed at a full gallop and the fired up audience begged for one more and Trisha Yearwood and hot band gave them a wild and wooly send up of Chuck Berry’s classic barn-burner “Living in the USA”
The show was opened by the sassy, smart and sexy Amy Dalley who won the crowd over with her acerbic wit and playful songwriting, including the sharp-edged “All I Better Say About That,” the bittersweet “Let’s Try Goodbye” and the girl-pleasing anthem “Shoes Don’t Stretch and Men Don’t Change.” It didn’t hurt that the little lady had strong support from acoustic guitarist James Sizemore and rhythm guitarist Britton Cameron who blended with the lady perfectly on ballad and rocker. Miss Dalley also joined Trisha Yearwood in a red-hot “You’re No Good” where she more than held her own in duet with that huge Yearwood voice.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Wayne Newton September 14

Wayniacs Meet in Cerritos

By Glen Creason

The evening almost had a military ring to it despite the overwhelming, Vegas-style flash and over the top swells of splashy orchestral music. A trooper soldiered on but the best moment of the night came when some old soldiers got their due. It was the yearly festival of Wayne Newton, “the midnight idol” and “Mister Las Vegas” who came to Cerritos to hold court before the packed house of “wayniacs.” The one hour and forty minute show is full of fun and music amidst all the bells and whistles one man can fit on a concert stage. The Wayne Newton review features three excellent back up singers, a full orchestra and a talented band that is given plenty of time to shine by the headman.
Newton is of an indeterminate age and only his hairdresser and plastic surgeon know for sure but he looks about twenty-five, yet had hit records when I was being scolded by Sister Leocritia at St. Helen school when Ike was president.
The place was buzzing when the man took the stage and busted off a rocking “C.C. Rider” and “Viva Las Vegas” that brought up comparisons the king himself. Yet Wayne, in his perfect tux, with perfect hair, perfect tan and silky stage persona was saddled with some serious voice limitations. While the old trooper would not let his fans down, he seemed to be battling a cold and was hoarse in speech and song throughout. No mention from the stage, no excuses and the entertainer’s entertainer just played hurt but showed no lack of energy, humor or enthusiasm. “Everyday I Have the Blues” was amped up and spiced by a tasty guitar solo but harkened back to Pat Boone singing Fats Domino. The real Wayne Newton showstopper followed with the full-blown, wide-screen, cinemascope reading of “Lady” that was the mans best moment on the night. And when his normally potent baritone was reduced to a croak he handed the mike over to backup Francis Lee who just stood the entire hall on its ear with her electrifying sanctified shout of “He Looks Beyond All My Faults.” Ms. Lee is certainly not someone you would want to follow so Wayne turned to another talented backup Darlene who romped through the old disco classic “I Will Survive” with the crowd swaying in unison.
With his voice limited Newton turned to his talented fingers and played instrument after instrument like the time-tested entertainment pro he is. There was C&W guitar with Merle Haggard overtones, a stunning “Spanish Eyes,” “Baby Face” done with Dixieland banjo, the “Orange Blossom Special” with flaming fiddle, all washed down with the begged for and delivered, obligatory “Danke Schoen” which hit the charts way back in my high school years. Mr. Newton saved the patriotic portion for the finale of the show and therein lay a moment to remember. Wayne Newton has long been devoted to our troops serving across the globe and is not shy about mentioning his efforts on their behalf. However, when he asked the men and women in the audience who had served to stand up and take a bow it made for some powerful theater indeed. The veterans, many of them of World War II or Korean age stood, somewhat sheepishly at first but when the crowd roared its appreciation for their sacrifice and dedication they all just got a little taller. Even the worst cynic would have had a lump in their throat as the cheers continued until the band broke into a fairly rip-snorting “America the Beautiful” that put a nice punctuation on a pretty special moment.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Four Tops/ Temptations September 8, 2007

Motown Memories: Temptations and Four Tops at Cerritos

By Glen Creason

No staid rehash of the gems of yesteryear, the concert by the Temptations at the Performing Arts Center on Saturday was a rousing, joyful romp through some of the greatest popular music of the old Twentieth Century. Half of this marvelous two hour plus of R&B gold was brought to vibrant life by the current cast of Temps which includes one original in Otis Williams and four quite talented and experienced cohorts Terry Weeks, Joe Herndon, Ron Tyson and powerhouse lead man Bruce “Big Sexy” Williamson. These Temptations attacked the repertoire with a high voltage harmony and choreography that was truly an art form in itself. Resplendent in iridescent platinum suits the group worked very hard to put an electrical charge into great old stuff like “How Sweet It Is to Be Loved by You,” “The Way You Do The Things You Do,” “Aint Too Proud to Beg,” “I Wish It Would Rain,” and “Papa Was a Rolling Stone.” With Herndon’s rumbling bass and Tyson’s sweet tenor holding down the edges the rest was up to the mid-trio lead by newcomer Bruce Williamson who would have stole the show except for the fact that this music is made for five very good singers and dancers. Williamson is a big man with lots of personal charisma but his versatile, super-strong voice elevated the show way above mere tribute to the Temps.
By the midway point the shiny suits were stained with sweat as the hard-working quintet kept the energy surging like the power plant outside of Las Vegas and got the big crowd to its feet repeatedly for dance music the way it should be played. This included “I Can’t Get Next to You,” “Get Ready,” “Stay,” “I’m Losing You,” “Since I Lost My Baby” and the lyrical genius of “The Girls Alright With Me” that moved some few hundred men in the audience to sing for their significant others. It actually sounded not too bad. There was some surprising songs too including the lushly romantic turns of “Darling I Love You” and “You Are Necessary in My Life” often heard at weddings in the time of rice-peltings. Of course, the adoring audience waited most of the night to hear one of the greatest tunes ever and the Temps did a fine version of “My Girl” that crackled over the wires of memory back to 1965 like a thunderbolt. When these Temptations finished the packed house begged for more and were thrilled to get it with gravy on it.
The show was opened by the no-less legendary Four Tops who also sported an original in the ever-stylish Duke Fakir. The Duke is supported by a stalwart trio including the son of original Lawrence Payton Jr., veteran Ronny McNeir, and lead singer Theo Peoples. These Tops worked hard and enjoyed the great songs along with the fantastic backdrop of a soul orchestra lead by George Moncrief, including a full horn section extraordinaire. The set list read like a trip down the Motown song hall of fame. “Baby I Need Your Lovin’,” “Bernadette,” “It’s the Same Old Song,” “Aint No Woman Like the One I Got,” “Shake Me,” and a red hot “When She Was My Girl” that got the booties shaking up out of their seats. There were unusual choices including “In the Still of the Night” “Just Walk Away Rene” and the rather melodramatic, overwrought “Always and Forever” but a finishing medley of “Reach Out,” “Standing in the Shadows of Love,” and the classic “I Can’t Help Myself” left the crowd in a very good Motown place.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Creedence Clearwater Revival August 31, 2007

Creedence Coming Around the Bend Again

By Glen Creason

One of the sweet annual treats at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts is a visit from Creedence Clearwater Revisited. From four decades back in the foggy rear view mirror comes nostalgic greatness that guarantees as lively a concert as you will ever hear in the great hall. In their fourth visit to Cerritos CCR continues to steam straight ahead, laying out one hundred minutes of pure musical endorphins that wash over those crusty synapses from back in the salad days of boomers filling the audience. There are few repertoires that can match the Creedence treasure chest and the shows are plain and simple rocked out mini-festivals of time-tested jewels. These concerts are not showy, pretty, fancy or filled with bells and whistles. The band is dressed simply in t-shirts and jeans on a bare stage but the sound comes in pounding waves of rhythm while twisting and turning the classic songs into a fresh forays into the rock form, allowing the superbly skilled guitarist Tal Morris to strut his face-melting solos amidst the aged in oak platform of bass and drums from Creedence Clearwater Revival originals Cosmo Clifford and Stu Cook. This ingrained ability to move an audience in their seats seems to be in the DNA of these guys who look great for gents even older than me. If I had arms like Cosmo Clifford, I would wear tank tops too.
Blasting off like it was 1969 again Creedence roared through “Born on the Bayou,” Green River,” “Lodi,” “Commotion,” “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” “Suzy-Q,” and “Hey Tonight” without seeming to take of gulp of air along the way. Lead singer John “Bulldog” Tristao is essential to re-creating the Creedence sound and spicing up the proceedings with some beefy stage presence. His gravelly but potent voice can reach all of the notes and allows the songs to be appreciated in a pure rock form. Another veteran, keyboardist Steve Gunner keeps the sound tight and on point, making each song album sounding perfect. If there is any beef that the irascible John Fogerty in not part of the band, that is forgotten quickly when the music starts and Tristao lets loose his growl. The band does Fogerty’s songs honor and most certainly gives the fans their money’s worth. As the show progressed, audience muscle-memories loosened and the years melted away in this glow of rock and roll. In front of me, a father with knowledge of the Summer of Love sat next to his stoic, unmoving son gyrating like a guy who could assume a cross-legged yoga pose, just like he did back in the day. Yet, this was a performance that reached out to those unborn when Creedence first put vinyl in stores and “youngsters” in their 30’s and 40’s got up and shook a tail feather to more fine wine from the hot wax days including “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” “Midnight Special,” “Bad Moon Rising,” an extended, rollicking “Proud Mary,” and “Fortunate Son.” A four bagger of encores including “Have You Ever Seen the Rain,” “Travelin’ Band,” “Run Through the Jungle” and “Up Around the Bend” sent the exhausted and delighted crowd back home to their copies of “Cosmo’s Factory” with the knowledge that some things do get better with age.