The pursuit of ‘Love & Happiness’ with Al Green

Music · Reviews

photo credit: Al Green facebook page

He struggled. Both with his voice and his body. Argh, that gorgeous, sexy young man got fat. The voice was often not there. He reached for signature falsetto trills, swooping octave-length slides, and growls, and came up with memories. Rather than whisper, he croaked. He relied on the audience to sing in the blanks. He didn’t move as before; frozen in my memory, the jolting, electric shock of watching him dance across the Beacon Theater stage in New York, dressed in skintight white suit, tossing red roses to the ladies. Wow, he was a great dancer. Thursday night, at the Greek Theatre, the roses felt perfunctory. Quickly winded, he had to sit for much of the concert. He chugged Gator Ade, a sorry sight. Only in very few songs did you feel an artist lost in his material, making it real.

But it didn’t matter. He’s still Al Green. Time in this arduous life has passed. Neither am I the young girl who forty years ago revered this great soul stylist as no other. Always my number one. It was Al and me on Thursday, staying together, alone in a crowd of thousands. It was an evening of warm memories, with heaping love and affection flowing from grateful fans toward a unique American singer. And his killer band, including back-up singers and Memphis horns, more than hearkened “the good times.” They rocked it.

How Can You Mend a Broken Heart? The breathy, elegiac Simply Beautiful. The sexiest song a man ever sang, Here I Am (Come and Take Me) all more or less visited the play list. A fabulous, extended version of Love and Happiness closed the concert.

The Greek Theatre is a house of joy. It is an amusement park for adults, where everyone behaves like one. Entering the outdoor amphitheatre is nearly as thrilling as entering Carnegie Hall. The house itself exudes its presence during a concert. From our wonderful side-wedge of seats, like opera boxes, we overlooked a crowd as mixed in race and age as Los Angeles itself. All were blessed to pass an evening with Al.

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