The Tribune's Michael Appelgate attended Aaron Neville's concert Friday night at the Deer Valley Amphitheater, and here is his report:
Aaron Neville is old enough to be my grandfather. Yes, that indeed makes me young, probably among the youngest at Deer Valley in Park City on Friday night.
At the age of 71, however, Neville still has that voice.
He brought a sizeable crowd - mostly middle- to- late-aged folks - to their feet. And it wasn't because of classics such as "Stand by Me" and "Don't Know Much," it was Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds." The New Orleans R&B crooner also rocked the crowd with his own rendition of Dobie Gray's "Drift Away." Just when it appeared as if the crowd had come to life, the stage lost power to the disappointment of many.
Regardless, New Orleans-style beats brought life to a soggy hillside.
Despite a light drizzle from the concert's outset, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band opened the concert with songs from their new album, "Twenty Dozen." Led by the eclectic Efrem Towns on vocals, flugelhorn and trumpet, and Terrence Higgins on the drums, the band more than readied the stage for Neville when it played a New Orleans second line riff, followed by "When the Saints go Marching in."
Neville's band, the Aaron Neville Quintet, starring Aaron's brother, Charles, opened with lively jazz. Then, it was all Aaron with "Don't Know Much" and his voice which many have described as that of an angel.
However, the angelic voice is getting old.
I first heard Neville in the 90's when I watched the TV show "Sesame Street" (I was born in 1991, so I didn't have the chance to hear his early years). He sang a duet with the character, Ernie, called "I don't want to live on the Moon." He effortlessly guided his voice up and down the musical scale with ease. That ease is fleeting.
It's apparent when Neville reaches for those high notes his voice trails off. He backs off the note when previously he would hold it out.
Don't get me wrong, Neville is still an amazing singer with a once-in-a-generation voice. But it's going away.
I'm glad I had the opportunity to see him live, because who knows how long that voice can hold up.
Once the power went out on stage, the crowd implored the band to continue. After seven minutes of delay, Neville took a bow to thunderous applause. Fitting for one with a voice so soft and smooth, and one we may never hear again at its fullest potential.