Duo brings joy to world of Pops
Only two of the original three "dogs" were present to blend their voices in what was once three-part harmony, but the folks seated downstairs gave Cory Wells and Danny Hutton a standing ovation anyway when Three Dog Night opened a three-night stand Friday with the Honolulu Symphony Pops in the Blaisdell Concert Hall.
Three Dog Night and Paula Fuga with the Honolulu Symphony Pops
Where: Blaisdell Concert Hall
When: 2 p.m. today
Call: 792-2000 or www.honolulusymphony.com
Anyone who doesn't know that Three Dog Night originally had three lead vocalists might have thought that age, not the absence of Chuck Negron, was the reason that some of the vocal arrangements didn't sound the same, but that didn't spoil the party.
Wells and Hutton made Negron's songs their own, and they did a remarkable job in getting through most of Three Dog Night's major hits before time ran out -- 13 out of a possible 20 to be exact.
A six-minute orchestral overture sopped up time that would have been better used by Hutton and Wells, but they opened strong with "The Family of Man" and continued in fine style with "Black and White," "Never Been to Spain" and "Shambala."
"Out in the Country" and "Easy to be Hard" provided a welcome respite from the excessively high settings on the concert hall sound board -- suitable perhaps for Blaisdell Arena, but too loud for the concert hall.
A three-minute orchestral piece later in the show also brought the sound levels down to comfortable levels, but again took precious time away from Wells, Hutton and their four musicians.
Both men had great moments. Hutton howled like a soul in torment on "Liar."
Wells owned the stage working solo on the group's 1969 vintage white-rock version of "Try A Little Tenderness." Although he didn't deliver it with the physical intensity that Bill Wray or Ronnie Lewis and James Clark brought to their interpretations of Otis Redding's signature, there's a definite charm to Wells' version, and it was one of the highlights of the evening.
Wells also displayed his comedic skills, answering an unasked question: What would "Mama Told Me (Not To Come)" sound like if it were recorded as a rap song? Wells starred as a Vanilla Ice-style rapper in a surprisingly entertaining parody.
Wells and Hutton were still going strong when the Pops' musicians curfew forced them to cut it short. "There're about six more (songs) you didn't hear," Wells said before they closed with a rousing rendition of "Joy to the World."
Special guest Paula Fuga seemed a bit nervous in her Pops debut but was in great voice as she sang three songs from her Hoku Award-winning album and a new one "about my first love" (Fuga didn't mention the name, but the set list identified it as "Earth to Moon").
Friday was also a great night for the Pops. Conductor Matt Catingub opened his 10th season as Pops conductor with a stirring arrangement of "Millennium Swing 2007" with Zanuck Kapala Lindsey featured on electric guitar. He closed the first half of the program with another grand demonstration of the Pops' capabilities, "Adventures in Television Syndication -- The '60s, Part 3 (Including Some '50s Reruns)." The whimsically titled piece had the audience playing "name that tune" as Catingub led the Pops through a potpourri of television themes -- "Leave It to Beaver," "McHale's Navy," "The Monkees," "My Three Sons" and "Peter Gunn" among them.
There were no sound problems during the Pops' half of the program. With luck, Wells, Hutton and their musicians will be equally well served by the sound board operators this afternoon.