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Introducing Darlene Love: LA 9/20/15

September 25, 2015
Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, we headed south to LA to see Darlene Love at the Whiskey A Go Go. She is no longer 20 Feet from Stardom (see review of the documentary here  and last Sunday night I was less than 20 feet from the STAR Darlene Love!  Many celebrities came out for the show, and I even got a photo of me with Blondie drummer Clem Burke. My friend and frequent guest blogger Ron Wells also attended the show and here’s his review:
Phil Spector may be locked up in prison, but Darlene Love has been set free from near anonymity by Steve Van Zandt to sing and glory in all that her God-filled soul can muster.
Sunday night at the world famous Whiskey A Go Go in Hollywood, CA., Ms. Love and Mr. Van Zandt put on a passionate show of new and old songs celebrating the release of her new album, “Introducing Darlene Love,” which was produced by Steve.
The night got off to a somewhat frustrating start with the doors opening at 8:00 PM, but with the opening act canceling, Darlene and her band did not come on stage until 10:15 PM due to contract obligations. Thus, there was a lot of standing around and waiting.
But then the magic began as Steve, Darlene and the 19 other musicians took to the stage.

There was a horn section, string section, back-up singers, keyboardists and percussionists. In other words, Steve had put together a modern version of the Wrecking Crew (L.A.’s famed session players) to recreate Spector’s “wall of sound.” It was a brilliant move and fantastic support for Darlene’s still powerful voice. She was dressed in a black top, with silver, sparkling pants that reflected the warmth and shimmering glow in her eyes and her joyous demeanor.
“Among the Believers,” a song written by Steve, kicked the show off in high gear, for this was a night for the true believers who still saw the power of poetic songs and music. For Darlene, she had journeyed from her days with Spector in which she was given little if any credit, to eventually having to clean homes in Beverly Hills, to realizing that one way or another, music was the path she needed to be on. In her retelling of the story, Steve had seen her in show-case performance at LA’s Roxy nightclub thirty-five years ago, and convinced her to move back to New York and begin her journey once again. With Steve’s support, she joined him and his ranks of true believers in the power of music.
The 22 song set moved from songs on her new album, to a short 3 song set by Steve in the middle of the performance, to old Spector produced songs from the 60’s. Highlights came flowing one after another. Steve’s “Last Night” was a powerhouse as Darlene proclaimed “I’m gonna make sure you remember my name” because “this may be the last time,” but “let’s make it the best time.” She sold the song of survival and change, with thankfulness and acceptance, rather than regret. Following this came Jim Webb’s exceptional “Who Under Heaven” which was powerfully rendered as she sang that “the world needs some magic/the world is running out of dreams.”
It was obvious she wanted to bring a little of that magic through her songs.
Steve’s set-break followed with him humorously commenting in response to why he wasn’t at the Emmys, that: “Who needs them. They forgot the coolest show on TV.” He then proceeded to do “Love on the Wrong Side of Town,”  an extremely soulful version of “Until the Good Is Gone,” and “Forever” (dedicated to his wife, Maureen.).
Darlene then returned like a force of nature with the classics “He’s a Rebel” and “Today I Met the Boy I’m Gonna Marry.” She then roared into “Wait ’Til My Bobby Gets Home,” which majestically segued into “Da Doo  Ron Ron.” The songs exploded to life and nothing but fun was being had as the Whiskey patrons bounced and sang along.
Amazingly, this led into Walter Hawkin’s gospel song, “Marvelous,” which soared with Darlene’s voice and fervor. Some new songs followed, but the dynamite closing was yet to come. It must be noted here, that not all of the new songs had the same force and power that one might have hoped for. Still, Darlene never wavered in her belief in them. If they weren’t all of equal stature, she held them as if they were. After a long cascading instrumental opening, Darlene began one of the greatest pop songs ever written—by Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich—“River Deep, Mountain High,” only to find her mic didn’t work.
Like the true professionals they are, Steve immediately grabbed his mic and handed it to Darlene and she barely missed a beat. With her powerful resonating voice, she proved that Tina Turner is not the only singer who can do this song justice. It was brilliant, and the band had the wall of sound down to perfection. The show closed with Steve’s gospel tinged “Jesus Is The Rock (That Keeps Me Rollin’)”. It was magnificent, as Darlene showed that after her 19 song set, she still had the joy, passion, and inspiration to move any audience.
It was 12:05 AM, a new day indeed, when she walked off stage, but the vibrations in the club still bounced off the walls and into the hearts of the audience members.
Ms. Love may be 74 years old, but her voice and passion are as youthful as ever. Her path in life was never straight forward, yet her belief in herself lived on through hardship and turmoil.
She is an inspiration to anyone of any age to never give up on your dreams. Hard work and faith in yourself can lead you to redemption, salvation and, ultimately, joy. Never, not even for one minute, did Darlene Love ever show anything less than a joyous acceptance of the music and songs she was singing. No matter what is to come, on this night the light which shined on her showed that she was the brightest of the believers. Ladies and gentlemen, “Introducing Darlene Love.” Much more than survivor, she is a singing, dancing, joyous beckon of life and light.
Set list:
On at 10:15 PM
  1. Among the Believers
  2. Love Kept Us Foolin’ Around
  3. Sweet Freedom
  4. Still Too Soon To Know
  5. Just Another Lonely Mile
  6. Pain Killer
  7. Last Time
  8. Forbidden Nights
  9. Who Under Heaven
  10. Love on the Wrong Side of Town (Steve)
  11. Until The Good Is Gone (Steve)
  12. Forever (Steve)
  13. He’s Sure the Boy I Love
  14. He’s a Rebel
  15. (Today I Met) The Boy I’m Gonna Marry
  16. Wait Til’ My Bobby Gets Home
  17. Da Doo Ron Ron
  18. Marvelous
  19. Little Liar
  20. Night Closing In
  21. River Deep, Mountain High
  22. Jesus Is the Rock (That Keeps Me Rollin’)
Out at 12:05 AM


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