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Monday, 18 April 2011 16:09

"Love" Songs: Confessions of a Failed Pom Pom Girl

Written by Andrea Braun

The Details

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While it’s too late for you to support Kay Martin Love’s lingering trauma about failing to make her high school pom pom squad in the late 1970s, I have a feeling you’ll get another chance. Love’s pain is our pleasure, as she resurrects song from the ‘70s and ‘80s, and she puts on a grand night of singing, joking and music.

While the stage is a bit crowded with Watkins at the big piano, Rick Weiss playing bass guitar and the nearly-hidden drummer, Jim, and Watts, providing harmonies on some of the best numbers. In fact, they all sing except Weiss. This vocal support is especially effective on some of the bigger numbers, such as “More than a Feeling,” “Love Lift Us Up,” (covers of Boston and Journey, respectively); “Fame” and “Flashdance/What a Feeling” (Irene Cara power ballads) and Donna Summer’s disco anthem, “Last Dance,” the encore. The group was outstanding on the “silly love song,” “Afternoon Delight” (Starland Vocal Band) and Paul McCartney’s “Silly Love Songs” framed a medley of, well, silly love songs (and it turned into a novelty set when she segued into “Feelings” and “Havin’ My Baby,” for which I do forgive her).

Between numbers, Love told us tales of teenage angst, and how she found comfort in the Glee Club, “We were ‘Gleeks’ before our time,” she reminisced. Actually, there isn’t a whole lot of patter in this show, or at least not as much as many performers rely on, and that’s all to the good when you have this much musical ground to cover. Love’s voice is best suited to an operetta soprano style, which ironically, she used in a comedy rendition of “I Think I Love You” (David Cassidy). I thought some of the lower registers in the rocking numbers gave her a bit of trouble, but it wasn’t really important. She does have a strong alto on slower numbers such as “I’m
Sailing Away” where that part of her range had a chance to shine. Overall, though, she has a lovely tone and it was a lot of fun to hear these “nouveau classics.”

A highlight of the show for me was Dan Fogelberg’s “Leader of the Band.” When the song was popular, I never gave too much thought to my dad. He was just always there, and that was the fact. Now that he’s gone; however, it has new resonance, and Love’s interpretation brought me to tears. On the other end of the spectrum, her cover of “Evergreen” wasn’t entirely successful. She did make it more delicate and suited to her instrument than Streisand’s version, but it was a little pitchy in spots. “Open Arms” (Journey) allowed her to sing in her mid-range and it mostly worked, but another song, “What Do I Do to Make You Love Me” by Elton John was outstanding, a highlight. “It’s My Turn,” covering Diana Ross occasionally sounded reedy, but the end pulled it through to a great place, leading into “We May Never Pass This Way Again,” that showcased everyone on stage.

Love gave due credit to J.T. Taylor for lights and sound, both of which were fine, and the evening ended on a high note. Well, maybe not quite high enough for me because I wish she’d use that gorgeous soprano more often, but she gave us a show that was polished, fun, and when she brings her tales of pom pom woe to us again, I think you’d do well to check it out.

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