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Review: Michael Stanley & the Resonators at Warren Community Amphitheatre

June 17, 2012 - Andy Gray
Sometimes it all goes right. Saturday night at the Warren Community Amphitheatre was one of those nights.

The weather, the most unpredictable factor at any outdoor show, couldn’t have been better. The humidity that hung over the Valley most of the day seemed to ease just as Jonah Koslen was taking the stage, and a light breeze made it more comfortable than anyone would have guessed at 4 p.m.

Then there was the music. I’m sure there were some first-timers in a crowd that seemed to fill every nook and cranny of the venue. But Saturday’s audience seemed to be dominated by folks who remembered seeing Michael Stanley at Richfield Coliseum, Blossom Music Center, the farewell shows at the Front Row Theatre or even farther back when the Michael Stanley Band was playing local high school gymnasiums.

Nostalgia is a potent drug, but it usually comes with some bitter side effects. The present seldom can match those memories that have been distorted and amplified over the years.

But Stanley’s performance with his band The Resonators came as close to fulfilling expectations as anyone had a right to expect.

Wearing a black suit and black V-neck T-shirt, Stanley looked good, younger than his 64 years.

More importantly, he sounded good, whether he was performing “Rosewood Bitters,’’ something he’s been singing for 40 years, or “The Hang,” the title track from his new album. And the quality of the song proved Stanley solely isn’t a nostalgia act. It fit right in among the MSB favorites.

And there were plenty of those. “Midwest Midnight,” “In the Heartland,” “Spanish Nights,” “Falling in Love Again,” “Let’s Get the Show on the Road,” “Lover” and “Somewhere in the Night” all were part of the show that clocked at just more than two hours.

Former MSB bandmate Jonah Koslen also fed the nostalgic cravings with “Waste a Little Time on Me,’’ “Nothing’s Gonna Change My Mind” and “Strike Up the Band” in his hour-long set that followed local favorites The HouseBand.

And Koslen and Stanley teamed up during the Resonators’ set to sing “Edge of the Sky,” which Stanley said, “I can honestly say we haven’t performed in 35 years.”

The eight Resonators playing with Stanley made the old and new sound tight, whether it was Danny Powers recreating his original MSB guitar riffs, Paul Christensen’s soaring saxophone solos on “Lover” and “Spanish Nights” (entwined with Marc Lee Shannon’s mandolin) or Jennifer Lee’s harmonies as she shared the mic with Stanley on “Rosewood Bitters.” Stanley took time before "The Hang" to acknowledge another important member of the gang, Warren native Dan Montecalvo, who has been Stanley's sound man for about 38 years.

And Donnie Iris & the Cruisers have opened for Stanley enough over the years that Cruiser keyboard player Mark Avsec had no trouble filling in for Bob Pelander.

Encores of “Working Again” and “My Town” had most of the crowd on its feet and singing along.

Proceeds from the concert, a joint production of Sunrise Entertainment and Packed House Productions, will benefit Trumbull Mobile Meals and the Warren Lions Club. But everyone who was there benefited from the night.


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