Bee Gee Barry Gibb's First U.S. Solo Appearance at Home in South Florida

Categories: Concert Review
barry-gibb.jpg
Barry Gibb
Hard Rock Live, Hollywood 
Tuesday, February 21, 2012 

Better than: Anyone might have possibly expected.

Can one Bee Gee make up for the lack of three? 

After Maurice Gibb's passing and Robin Gibb's recent health scare, it was left to brother Barry to carry on the band's legacy and prove that he can keep the band's spirit shining. Definitely, a formidable task. 

One of the most successful bands of the past 40 years, it was the group's spirited harmonies and collaborative songwriting that assured their success. So, when Barry Gibb bravely ventured out on the Hard Rock Live stage to stand solo in the spotlight, he likely realized he faced a challenge. Could he meet the audience's expectations? Happily, the answer was yes. 
The high falsetto, used to such great extents, from Saturday Night Fever on, was more than proficient. Several more-obscure selections, some dating back to their earliest days in Australia, proved more than adequate when it came to providing a Bee Gees devotee's desire for deep cuts. 

Though his lion-like mane is thinning and has gone completely gray, Gibb retains the same magnetic charisma that first commanded attention early on. And onstage at Hard Rock, he looked perfectly at ease, though a bit awestruck at the enthusiastic reaction that greeted him throughout the set's 20 songs and hour and a half duration. Garbed in a green silk shirt and jeans, he soaked up the fact as a South Florida homeboy, he's celebrated as a conquering hero at home. 

"Thank you for coming," he said early on. "You'll never know how much this means to me. To do something in my hometown is extraordinary."

Indeed, it was both fitting and auspicious that Gibb should choose a local stage like the Hard Rock for his first U.S. solo appearance. The emphasis remained mainly on the Bee Gees canon, with several otherwise obscure selections providing historical affirmation. Who would expect to hear such gems as "First of May," "Spicks and Specks," "Every Christian Lionhearted Man Will Show You," "Morning of My Life," and "Lonely Days" tossed into the mix when he could have relied solely on more obvious hits? 

While he wisely avoided those songs that his brother Robin sang lead on ("Gotta Get a Message to You," for example, was sorely missed), the chart busters old and new ("Stayin' Alive," "Words" "1941 New York Mining Disaster," "Jive Talking," "More Than a Woman," and "Night Fever") kept the oldies enthusiasts satisfied. What's more, his eight-piece band, which includes his eldest son, Stephen, on guitar, was right on cue. It astutely replicated the original arrangements, while a trio of backing singers dressed '70s-style did their best to fill the vocal gaps caused by the absence of his brothers. 

In fact, thoughts of family continually pierced the proceedings. "Words" was dedicated to wife, Linda, and his growing brood of grandkids and his expanded family of children, nephews, and nieces. 

Earlier, a representative of the latter, Maurice's daughter Samantha, made a well-received cameo appearance, beginning with a solo take on the evergreen classic "End of the World" (one of two non-Bee Gees entries in the set, the other being Barry's slinky cover of "Fever," which segued into an equally sultry version of "Stayin' Alive"). 

She brought down the house, suggesting that a rewarding singing career lies ahead of her. Likewise, son Stephen's selection, a gritty yet otherwise unknown Maurice track called "On Time," gave him ample opportunity to spotlight his impressive guitar prowess and a gritty vocal that seemed well in sync with his tattooed hands and forearms. The boy does not look like a Bee Gee. 

Barry also shared the spotlight later on, bringing back-up singer Beth Cohen to center stage to sing the Dolly Parton and Barbra Streisand role on "Islands in the Stream" and "Guilty," respectively. The former was especially impressive, further proof that even beyond the Bee Gees, Gibb ranks as one of the most prolific and proficient songwriters of the modern era. 

Still, the most poignant moment of the evening came at the finale of the set and just prior to the encore, when he paid homage to his brothers Andy and Maurice, both deceased, and Robin, apparently still struggling for his life. 

"I know there are people in the audience with an inclination for prayer," he said softly. "I know that I'm one as well," he added, letting his words trail off after expressing the obvious. He then launched into a powerful and heartfelt read of "Immortality," a song the brothers penned for Celine Dion. It was clearly an exercise in emotion, with Gibb giving it his all and allowing the lyric "We never say goodbye" to resonate with meaning. He then left the stage, returning a short time later for his sole encore, a reprise of "Stayin' Alive," this time performed in its original incarnation. 

A great concert, one that was truly captivating, we found Barry as brilliant as ever. Sometimes, it seems, nostalgia need not be confined to the past. In this case, it embraced the present as well.

Critic's Notebook

Personal bias: The song selection was ideal. I particularly loved the fact that he did "First of May," one of the loveliest songs the Bee Gees ever recorded.

Random detail: The crowd was older, as might be expected, but there was also a significant number of enthusiastic middle-aged individuals, affirming the fact that the Bee Gees still command a broad audience.

By the way: Even the Saturday Night Fever songs were terrific. All is now forgiven for their digression to disco.

Set List:
Jive Talking
Lonely Days 
You Should Be Dancing
First of May
To Love Somebody
End of the World/How Can You Mend a Broken Heart (with Samantha Gibb)
Fever/Stayin' Alive
How Deep Is Your Love
On Time (Stephen Gibb)
1941 New York Mining Disaster
With the Sun in My Eyes
Morning of My Life
Spicks and Specks
Every Christian Lionhearted Man Will Show You
Islands in the Stream (with Beth Cohen)
Guilty (with Beth Cohen)
Words
Night Fever/More Than a Woman
Immortality

Encore
Stayin' Alive


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22 comments
Chinggot62
Chinggot62

'cant be there for i live somewhere in Asia, but it must be a night worth remembering the rest of one's life. I hope Barry would often visit dear Robin in UK ( for more bonding) - for sure Robin needs him so much at this difficult time.

Jeslie2452
Jeslie2452

It was an absolutely awesome concert!! Hope he and his son play together again! Wish Robin all the best!

Captbriand
Captbriand

I was there, it was amazing...was very emotional when I saw Samantha sing with Barry...great night but was too short...

Mark
Mark

Nice review. BTW: Lonely Days is not an obscure song but was actually quite a large hit. :-)

GiveMeARaise
GiveMeARaise

I hope Barry has found peace. The Gibbs' sibling dynamic is fascinating, and every fan is sad to see Barry and Robin be semi-estranged.

Barry at times would subtly let on that he was the hardest-working Gibb, the Moe Howard of the group, a bit resentful of the times when flaky-personaed Robin grabbed the spotlight without big brother's involvement, and with a chip on his shoulder about being compared to KC and the Sunshine Band rather than Lennon/McCartney.

The average fan looks at the news clippings and guesses that Robin sets boundaries because he doesn't want to be bossed around and mistrusted by Barry, while Barry thinks that he's the one doing all the heavy lifting (in addition to being big brother), so he's entitled to be The Decider.

But I'm sure it's far more complicated than that.

stuart
stuart

well im a uk guy and it was worth the travel to see barry on stage with his family.it was both fantastic and moving at times and we wish all of them well.it was brill to be part of history and look forward to being at the next one maybe in the uk

northernwind
northernwind

This was more than a performance of a lifetime- it was a brave, humble man boldly staring life's pain squarely in the face, amidst his devoted fans. Noone can begin to imagine the weight on his shoulders. Thank you Barry for sharing your soul, family and that very special evening with us. I hope that you realize that for every fan in the audience, millions more were there in spirit. ~Love and prayers, from a fan who "stepped out of the box" and flew in solo from Michigan to cheer you on.

Ash
Ash

Fantastic Night.. Like an old wine... Barry's got better with age.

Kazmccart
Kazmccart

Bring it Down Under pleeaase Barry !!

Olympicandy
Olympicandy

Flew down from DC only to see the show. And what a concert it was!! Didn't want to miss it-miss the music of the Bee Gees too much. Takes me back to my teenage years. Hope Barry keeps singing and goes out on the road............

Mv4tennis
Mv4tennis

It was magical.  A night I will never forget.

Annita Rackley
Annita Rackley

I loved the BeeGees when I was a teenager until some pure rock boyfriend told me they were not rock, but disco.  Then I tried to start cultivating a dislike for them.  I did not like disco, but I liked the single Stayin' Alive.  I owned Bee Gees music, but I was more into rock, not disco.  My rock n' roll buddies hated disco.

BBann
BBann

Thank you for sharing the review of the concert.  I am so glad it was a success but sad that couldn't be there to see it.  I love the Bee Gees and would love to see Barry perform with Robin.  Hope it will become a reality. I am forever a fan of the Bee Gees and love every song they sung and composed.

A Fan
A Fan

As a long-time Bee Gees fan, I am glad to hear that Barry's concert was a success and happy to read this favorable review.  It's a shame that almost every critic who has written about the Bee Gees can't seem to resist dishing out a cheap shot like the opening line, or the closer that implies that their 70s material was a shameful misstep.  The bottom line is this: Barry Gibb has one of the most distinctive voices in pop music and a musical master craftsman, so I don't know why anyone would be surprised by him delivering a quality show.  And, while people may not stylistically agree with the direction of their "Fever"-era songs, they were meticulously composed and recorded and displayed significant musicianship.  Bravo, Mr. Gibb - thank you for allowing your music to transcend the finicky media as usual.

rita s
rita s

Barry I saw pics of Robin he look good. All your fans are praying. Please come to New York 

Taffy1107
Taffy1107

Come to New York!  We love you!

Boston67
Boston67

I wish I could have seen the show.  Please come to Boston! 

Annick
Annick

I was at the concert and it was brilliant indeed!!!  Hope to see Barry on stage real soon again and frequently, for that matter!

Stephaniepick
Stephaniepick

So GREAT to hear!!  We LOVE them one and all!!

Nick
Nick

Bring it to the UK please Barry! Even better, bring it to the UK with Robin as well!

JM
JM

Great concert. A true legend ! I got chills up my spine.

Hello from Europe
Hello from Europe

And I would like to see Barry on stage real soon in EUROPE. Barry please!

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