When it comes to pop music concerts, there aren’t many who would make this writer as excited as the great Al Green—excited enough to travel two hours to the heart of the Big Apple to see the legend at Radio City Music Hall, where tickets were priced as much as $400 (not to mention the $26 for two drinks which in the end turned out to be badly needed) and the ransom it costs to pay New Jersey Turnpike and Lincoln Tunnel tolls. You also need a mortgage payment to park in New York, but that goes with the territory.
But it’s Al Green, and there’s little doubt that the ‘I’m Still in Love With You’ crooner is one of the most accomplished pop and soul artists of his generation.
He’s more than a legend in a world where that term is used quite loosely—particularly with greats like Prince, Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, and Whitney Houston all having passed way too soon.
One would be hard pressed to find a superstar with more memorable hits than the erstwhile Rev. Green. However, Green, who in the midst of an abbreviated eight city concert tour, might consider a redo of the sold out show he performed at New York’s Radio City Music Hall on Sunday, May 5.
While he performed much of what the amped up crowd came to see, e.g.: ‘Love and Happiness,’ ‘Let’s Stay Together,’ and ‘Tired of Being Alone,’ the show encountered a myriad of problems.
Scheduled to begin immediately after an 8 pm three-song opening act, Green didn’t take the stage until nearly 9:30 pm, and his microphone either had a disturbingly low volume or it wasn’t on at all.
Once that problem was fixed, things didn’t quite improve.
A visibly winded Green consistently had trouble completing any of his signature songs and, at times, even his background singers appeared lost.
At times it even appeared he’d forgotten the words while in other instances Green sauntered over to a table mid-song to consume Gatorade or other liquids.
As the band launched into the iconic ‘Let’s Stay Together,’ Green inexplicably sat down near his bass player sans the black suit jacket he’d worn on stage while two identically dressed young men appeared on stage.
One of them picked up Green’s jacket as if he were doing house cleaning. Turns out they were dancers who performed a line-dance during ‘Let’s Stay Together,’ as Green handed out roses to mostly young women who’d come to the edge of the stage.
As he appeared to look in a different direction, Green suggested he was not aware when a tall man reached for one of the roses. “Oh! You a guy!,” Green said, before making a Seinfeld-like ‘save’: “not that anything’s wrong with it.”
During another signature hit, ‘For the Good Times,’ the hit-maker appeared not aware that he was singing too far from his microphone and a visibly frustrated sound technician (sitting a couple of rows in front of this reporter) waved his arms in exasperation as he attempted to get Green to sing into his microphone.
The one-hour-plus show, for which patrons paid as much as $400 per ticket, was shockingly an unmitigated disaster.
As he sang ‘How Do You Mend a Broken Heart?’ Green should understand that the answer to that question is quite simple for those who attended the Radio City Music Hall show: authorize refunds or give his die-hard New York fans a do-over.