How do you follow Frank Zappa?


Rather than dwell on the potential difficulty of this, Ben Vereen followed Zappa’s  delightful ESO night by holding the Winspear in the palm of his hand himself.  And rather than a simple concert format, Friday’s Ben Vereen performance was an informal musical biography of inspirations, influences and personal triumphs that spanned the career of the ultimate “triple threat” — a magical calling that has taken Vereen from Broadway to the silver screen, from sharing the stage with his mentor, Sammy Davis Jr., to playing Will Smith’s fictional father. 

If you didn’t understand the immense talents Vereen holds, you certainly did after he performed. 


Like Vereen mentioned many times, Edmonton has a treasure in the ESO.  With tightness and perfection the ESO meshed with Vereen as if the two had been working in unison for years.  The natural chemistry the two presented created an unspeakable performance.  Powerful and electric, the team will hopefully meet again very soon.


Yet, as difficult as it is to outshine the ESO, Vereen did so.  Starting with a radiant smile, Vereen’s charismatic personality and out-of-this-world performing range took the audience on a journey that captured his adolescent nervousness at one moment, and his pure showmanship the next. 


Closing out the first half with his version of Sinatra's timeless "My Way," Ben Vereen stopped time for a brief moment.  The enraptured Edmonton audience couldn't clap quickly enough for his chilling homage. At the start of the second half of the night, with an unmatched vocal range and a wonderfully pleasant skill, Vereen paid tribute to his mentor, the legendary Sammy Davis Jr., in a touching, well-crafted way, which will easily remain a memory for all in attendance.  Vereen’s performance of “Mr. Bojangles,” made me stop and appreciate the song all over again. 


Ben Vereen proved to be a special performance, with great thanks to the precise symphony, and once again witnessed magic. 






more in Music Review     |     posted Mar 20th, 2011 at 8:36pm     

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