Audience Members Singing & Dancing During Friday Night Party
Jeff Walker, Entertainment Writer
With two thirds of the Bee Gees performing in rock n’ roll heaven, and 75-year-old Barry Gibb on hiatus, the only way for fans to experience the famed trio is to take in a Bee Gees tribute band. On Friday (Jan 7th) one such band played the North Charleston Performing Arts Center.
Comprised of some of Long Island New York’s most versatile and exceptionally talented entertainers, the New York Bee Gees are highly considered one of the best bands saluting one of the best pop and rock bands to emerge from the 1970’s. Judging by the low country crowd, the New York Bee Gees totally delivered the complete Bee Gees experience, performing songs from the brothers early years right through their disco era hits, adding a few songs made popular by younger brother Andy Gibb, and written for other artists.
With Peter Mazzeo performing as Barry, and Tom Flyntz and Manny Focarazzo stepping into the roles of Robin and Maurice respectively, the New York Bee Gees are a well-oiled entertaining machine. They come on stage as the Bee Gees and totally immerse themselves in their individual characters. The Bee Gees may have ruled Top 40 radio more than four decades ago, but their legacy lives on in groups like the New York Bee Gees.
With little fanfare the three background performers (two guys & a lady) took their positions on stage as familiar music permeated through the air. Within seconds the trio clad in all white, looking very much like the Bee Gees took to the stage jumping right into ‘Night Fever’ a song that got the crowd pumped.
Safe to say, from 1967 to 1982 few bands had as much success on Top 40 radio as did the Bee Gees. Their career was defined by two distinct eras. During the first half of their success, they were an introspective pop trio with underlying soulful riffs, while the second half of their 15-year run tabbed them as the rulers of disco. The New York Bee Gees encompass their entire body of work.
With Mazzeo providing interesting back stories the band re-introduced the roughly 600 plus attendees to songs from the late 1960’s including ‘To Love Somebody’, which was the first hit in America for the Bee Gees. They added in ‘I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You’, ‘How Can You Mend a Broken Heart’, ‘Massachusetts’, and the oft obscure ‘Fanny’.
The earlier songs were intertwined between the more recognizable dance numbers like ‘Night Fever’ and ‘Stayin Alive’.
Many in the crowd were on their feet the entire time showing off their moves, with couples slow dancing to several ballads including ‘More Than a Woman’. Barry and Robin’s voices are hard to emulate but Mazzeo and Flyntz did an exceptional job, especially on the pre-disco era numbers.
To add some flavor and pizzazz to the show, background singer Tammi Wolfe took center stage to send up Yvonne Elliman’s chart topper ‘If I Can’t Have You’ from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. She would return to sing ‘Emotion’ a 1978 hit for Samantha Sang written by Barry and Robin.
The New York Bee Gees celebrate all the great songs written by the Brothers Gibb, with Wolfe joining Mazzeo for two of their greatest duets, ‘Guilty’ and ‘Islands In the Stream’. The first made popular by Barry and Barbra Streisand and the latter by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers. They even paid tribute to the late Andy Gibb with ‘I Just Want to Be Your Everything’ and ‘Shadow Dancing’.
As the show was coming to an end the New York Bee Gees got everyone on their feet in a couple of audience participation songs, with ‘Jive Talking’ and ‘You Should Be Dancing’ making awesome sing-alongs. Mazzeo reminded the audience the Bee Gees had a major effect on John Travolta’s follow up performance to Saturday Night Fever, as everyone sang along to the title track to ‘Grease’, a song the brothers penned, and Frankie Valli took to the number in one in 1978.
The North Charleston Performing Arts Center may not have been filled to capacity, perhaps due to the show following closely after the holidays or the ongoing dark cloud of the virus, but those who did come out had a raucous good time. It was like Friday Night Fever at the PAC!
Audience members eager to re-visit the soundtrack to their lives from the late 60’s to early 80’s enjoyed every minute of the New York Bee Gees. They are a tight six-member unit that pay tribute to one of the greatest bands to emerge from that time period. Hopefully the New York Bee Gees will return and bring the dance party atmosphere with them. Their show might easily fill the 950 seat Charleston Music Hall.
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