Hip factor be damned. The first of three sold-out shows over two nights from Air Supply at New York's B.B. King's was an unabashed celebration of timeless melodies, vocal showmanship and a robust live
Hip factor be damned. The first of three sold-out shows over two nights from Air Supply at New York's B.B. King's was an unabashed celebration of timeless melodies, vocal showmanship and a robust live band that gave the Aussie duo's catalog of ballads a surprising kick.
Despite Russell Hitchcock's and Graham Russell's entrenched reputation as the definitive '80s MOR ensemble, the duo are charismatic showmen and, 20 years down the line, displayed a vim and vigor that rallied the diverse audience from opening chords through the closing chorus.
Certainly, in the house there were the expected 45-year-old suburban housewives swaying and singing along to every hit, but there were as many 20- and 30-something New York hipsters along for the ride. One young couple from Queens explained that they grew up with the hits of Air Supply courtesy of their parents, and simply loved the melodies.
The 90-minute set opened with "The Power of Love," a song made famous in the States by Celine Dion, but covered by Air Supply in 1985 -- at once proving that lead singer Hitchcock has lost none of the range that personified the melodrama of the duo's 11 top 40 love songs. Truly, taking on a track that, in this country, is wholly identified with Dion, made it clear that these gentlemen are fully confident in their performance acumen.
A boatload of hits followed, including "Just As I Am," "Two Less Lonely People in the World," crowd favorite "Even the Nights Are Better," "Here I Am," "Chances," a creatively arranged "Sweet Dreams" and "Lost in Love" -- the duo's appreciable first U.S. hit, which peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1980. The group also indulged the audience with a handful of newer songs, including the lush "This Time Is the First Time," which was embraced with equal enthusiasm.
While performing their (only) 1981 No. 1, "The One That You Love," both Hitchcock and Russell ventured into the audience, serenading the adoring minions, sitting at tables, posing for digital pictures (and not missing a note) and hugging fans.
Not surprisingly, the evening's highlight was an electrifying performance of the Jim Steinman composition, "Making Love Out of Nothing At All," a No. 2 hit in 1983, which garnered Air Supply a standing ovation more than a minute before the performance peaked. Closer "All Out of Love," their second U.S. hit, again brought the audience to it feet, with hands raised high.
It's one thing to have an expectedly adoring audience, but another to raise the roof -- not exactly a feat one would readily identify with Air Supply. B.B. King's was rocking. Who'd have thunk it?