The sold-out baby-boomer crowd at Meijer Gardens on Thursday cheered hits from the ’70s on a picturesque summer night. The Local Spins review and photo gallery.
It was a warm and winsome summer night of syrupy old-fashioned love songs aiming to celebrate a bygone age of pop-driven rock glory.
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Three Dog Night doled out heaping helpings of nostalgia at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park on Thursday night, regaling a sold-out, baby-boomer crowd with a smorgasbord of Top 40 hits from the 1970s.
They also managed to do what sometimes proves difficult when an older crowd packs the amphitheater: get fans out of their seats.
And this despite cautioning at the start that folks should probably sit because there was plenty of show to come. No matter: Many were back up dancing and singing along by the fourth song, “Shambala.”
That shouldn’t be a surprise, of course. After all, during the group’s heyday, Three Dog Night was more than just a glorified cover band.
They were master re-interpreters of other artists’ songs – from Paul Williams to Laura Nyro to Randy Newman – with arrangements that hit the sweet spot of commercial radio and listener tastes of the era.
It’s no wonder they were one of the best-selling acts of the early ’70s and hailed as one of America’s most popular rock bands at the time.
Then again, this is not exactly that same Three Dog Night.
Only singer Danny Hutton, 76, and guitarist Michael Allsup, 72, remain from the early heady days of the band, which is now buoyed by longtime bassist Paul Kingery and drummer Pat Bautz, plus singer David Morgan and keyboardist Howard Laravea. (Singer Cory Wells and keyboard player Jimmy Greenspoon passed away in 2015.)
AROUND FOR ‘A LONG, LONG TIME’ WITH AN ARSENAL OF HITS
“We’ve been around for a long, long time,” Hutton acknowledged early on.
Indeed. And, yes, the solo voices at times certainly showed their age, though the band pitched in with solid harmonies throughout the evening to fill in the holes and replicate the choruses that many attendees grew up with.
Getting the night rolling with “The Family of Man,” “Black and White” and “Never Been to Spain,” the band later interspersed stories about their long musical journey, especially the group’s early success with songs such as “One,” “Mama Told Me (Not to Come)” and “Liar.”
Throughout it all, group members didn’t shy away from discussion about their senior citizen status.
Morgan, 72, even joked about his aches and ailments. “On the back of my driver’s license,” he quipped, “there’s a list of organs I need.”
(There was a local shoutout, too, with Kingery – before singing lead on “One” – letting fans know that his son graduated from nearby Grand Valley State University.)
All of it created a sort of a mutual admiration society for songs that were popular more than 45 years ago.
Considering the weather, it wasn’t anywhere near a “three dog night” on Thursday (devoted fans will understand the reference).
But considering the audience, Three Dog Night may have been just what the nostalgia doctor ordered.
PHOTO GALLERY: Three Dog Night, Charlie Farren at Meijer Gardens
Photos by Anthony Norkus