Star-Bulletin Features

Wednesday, February 10, 1999

Kenny Loggins treats fans
to memorable evening

By John Berger
Special to the Star-Bulletin


IT'S more than 25 years since Loggins & Messina made their Hawaii debut at Andrews Amphitheatre, and more than 20 since Kenny Loggins launched his successful solo career. He's played Hawaii several times since, but never more successfully than at the Waikiki Shell last night.

Loggins and his 6-piece band could have handled the whole show on their own, but Hapa, Matt Catingub, and the Honolulu Symphony were welcome additions to the program.

Loggins was nothing if not unassuming. Charles Ka'upu of the Hapa ohana opened the show. Loggins came on with no specific introduction right after. Seen from afar it was hard to tell at first who the guy in the white shirt was. Was Hapa opening the show? Had Barry Flanagan decided wear a shirt with sleeves? No, it must be Kenny Loggins!

It took a while for the crowd in the upper terrace to get into it, but Loggins delivered an interesting show. He presented a couple of big songs from his Loggins & Messina years, "Your Mama Don't Dance" and "Danny's Song," in abbreviated but fresh arrangements. "House At Pooh Corner" is now "Return to Pooh Corner," he explained in introducing the updated version.

"Lahaina" and "Angry Eyes," two songs old-time L&M fans here associate with Loggins as much as they do with Messina, weren't part of the program. The most memorable hits from his solo career were. "Real Thing," inspired by his divorce, was beautifully sung and nicely embellished by Catingub and the symphony.

"Heart To Heart" and "This Is It" were among the musical memories shared after intermission. "Celebrate Me Home," the title song of his first solo album, thrilled many as Loggins and saxophonist Everette Harp waded out past the choice seats up into the terrace. Loggins eventually climbed on something so he could be seen by fans in the rear.

Loggins has written about being seen by some as a "oldies act" but isn't touring on the strength of past successes. Two songs from his latest musical project, "The Unimaginable Life," were as stirring musically as almost anything in the show. The songs, "Birth Energy" and "The Unimaginable Life," were among the best in terms of effective cooperation between Loggins' band and the symphony.

When Loggins left the stage with 30 minutes remaining it was a no-brainer bet that he'd be back to rock, and so he did for a rousing romp through "I'm Alright" and "Footloose." He closed the night with "Forever" in an arrangement that gave the symphony another chance to participate.

Hapa closed the first half of the show after they sat in with Loggins on a new arrangement of "Danny's Song." Lehua Kalima, bassist Kimo Bell, and Healani Youn were their guests. "Manoa In The Rain" and "Europa" suggested their versatility.

If one of the objectives of "pops" concerts is to expose mainstream audiences to the beauty of symphonic music then the one thing missing was a showcase number for the symphony as more than an adjunct to Loggins' band. However, Loggins' fans certainly got a show to remember.

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