Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Concert Review: KC and the Sunshine Band in Manila

KC and the Sunshine Band

(Excerpt from my article featured in
The still widely popular KC and the Sunshine Band, one of the most progressive bands of the 1970’s (the era where people bought records), is credited with changing the sound of modern pop music. Still as high energy as they were when they first danced into the music scene over 40 years ago, they have sold over 100 million records (in the ranks with artists like Britney Spears, Bon Jovi, Fleetwood Mac and Bruce Springsteen) and have garnered nine Grammy nominations, three Grammy Awards (including Album of the Year) and an American Music Award (for Best R&B Artist).
The American musical group took its name from songwriter, keyboardist and lead vocalist Harry Wayne Casey’s last name ("KC") and the "Sunshine Band" from Casey’s home state of sunny Florida, the Sunshine State, where the band was founded in 1973 (in Hialeah). KC wrote some of the biggest and most enduring songs of the disco era. These songs have been featured in over 200 motion pictures and, in 2013, their album “Boogie Shoes” was selected for preservation by the U.S. Library of Congress for its cultural significance. In 2002, KC “cemented” his role in show business with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He also penned songs for Betty Wright and Jimmy “Bo” Horne and, throughout the years, has influenced countless artists and continues to do so today.
Harry Wayne Casey

In a one-night only concert sponsored by Ovation Productions, KC and the Sunshine Band took over the Smart Araneta Coliseum, bringing their impressive musical resume to the stage as they performed songs with a unique fusion of disco, R&B and funk, and a hint of a Latin percussion groove, an audio rainbow of many roots that has stood the test of time. This would be the first time I would see them live, but I have listened to them countless times on the radio, TV and cassettes, when bell bottoms was in fashion, and now in CDs, MP3 and Spotify.
The show started promptly at 9 PM. Prior to KC’s arrival, Fermin Goytisolo (percussions, an original band member), Steve Lashley (bass), David Simmons (drums), Chris Cadenhead (keyboards), Robert E. Lee (keyboards), Jeffery Reeves (lead guitar), Miles Fielder (trombone), John Reid (trumpet), Fernando Diez (saxophone) and Francisco Dimas (trumpet) entered the stage followed by backing vocals Maria De Crescenzo and Anika Ellis-Mungin; and stunning dancers Janell Burgess and Kennetha Morris who grooved as the band performed “Shake, Shake, Shake (Shake Your Booty).”
A couple of verses into this first song, KC finally emerged from the right to the center of the stage and started pounding away at the keyboard. Doing what he does best – entertaining, KC also danced with the ladies from one side of the stage to the other in a theatrical display of dance moves that he created back in the 1970’s. However, by the time he started into the playfully suggestive “Boogie Shoes”(part of the 1977 “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack), his second song, the 65 year old KC already was already catching his breath and sweating profusely.
At the end of this second song, the “Boogie Man” acknowledged that he gained weight and how much older he was (he also had shorter hair, a receding hairline and sported a beard), using the catch phrase “What the hell happened?”referring to how much time had elapsed since he started the band 43 years ago. He also tried to educate all the younger Filipinos in the audience as to who he was, jokingly saying “For you young people, you’re probably wondering who I am. I was your mother’s NSYNC.”Further on, he warned them that this is how Justin Timberlake would look like in thirty years.
Next, he said he wanted to play a few slow songs, however  promising that the remainder of the show would remain upbeat. He then proceeded to play “It Happens Every Night,” “Are You Ready?”and “Please Don’t Go,” before picking up the tempo with the dance-party-inducing “I’m Your Boogie Man,” “Keep It Coming Love,” “Do You Wanna Go Party,” “Rock Your Baby” (George McCrae’s 1974 No. 1 hit), “It's The Same Old Song” (originally a 1965 hit single recorded by the Four Tops), “Give It Up” (No. 18 on the Billboard Hot 100 in March 1984), “Play That Funky Music” (a song written by Rob Parissi and originally recorded by the band Wild Cherry), “That’s the Way (I Like It)” (the band's second No. 1 hit in the Billboard Hot 100) and their first No. 1 hit in the Billboard Hot 100, the eponymous “Get Down Tonight,” with its fast tempo and repeating lyrics. 
In between a costume change, David Simmons performed an energetic drum solo. The band also performed a take on "Stand By Me," a song by Ben E. King, and “We Belong Together” and “Why Don't We Get Together,” two of their latest tracks.
Even after an impressive string of hits and having been in the entertainment industry for over four decades, this “Founder of the Dance Revolution”  still knows how to put on a great, spectacular, high-energy show. Though his singing voice was nowhere near what it used to be in the 1970s, he more than made up for it by plenty of razzle in his dazzle, his sheer energy, great music and by surrounding himself with a talented ensemble of horn players, backup singers and dancers. Add lots of great lighting, glittering production, colorful costumes and cool choreography, then there’s definitely a party going on, with fans mostly spending the entire feel-good concert on their feet, dancing and shaking their booty. Truly, when we hear the upbeat, optimistic songs of these “Kings of Disco,” we get down tonight.

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