Concert Reviews

Michael Bolton / Harriet Hot
Written by Central Electronic Brain     November 11, 2018    
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Michael Bolton / Harriet - City Hall, Sheffield (UK) - 31 October 2018

I took my seat at the rear of the side balcony just as the support act took to the stage. I was pleasantly surprised to find it was English songstress Harriet. For those unfamiliar with her, or her material, just close your eyes and at times you'll swear you are listening to Karen Carpenter. Live, she has a superb, pitch perfect voice and lets her music do the talking; and she's living proof that you don't have to scream and yell to be a brilliant singer. 'Fly' was magical, although if affirmation was ever needed, half the audience had Rock tendencies as opposed to Pop, then Harriet's set closer, a cover of S-Club 7's 'Reach', was quite amusing as she attempted to get the crowd to sing the chorus...

I was bemused as to why she was only given twenty-five minutes, especially as there was a fifty minute change over with no stage to set up.

Harriet Michael Bolton Live

Michael Bolton took to the stage with screams of delirium from the largely female audience, though I was surprised to see the venue only approximately two-thirds full. The sound was crystal clear, and although Bolton seems to have aged quite a bit over the last few years, and did not move around the stage with as much vigour as he once did, he still possesses a wonderful voice.

He started the show with no less than three consecutive covers, 'Stand By Me', 'To Love Somebody' and 'Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay', which, to be honest, is one song that Bolton has almost made his own. It is his own material, however, which gained the loudest audience response, starting with 'Said I Loved You (But I Lied)'. The crowd singing throughout the whole evening was very impressive, and in tune.

We were soon back to the covers with Eddy Arnold's 'You Don't Know Me' and the Marion Montgomery oldie 'That's Life', which Bolton said had been done best by Sinatra; but, he'd obviously forgotten the classic Diamond Dave version. The Dylan penned 'Make You Feel Your Love' preceded his own 'How Am I Supposed To Live Without You', when once again, the atmosphere notched up a level in the auditorium.

Unsurprisingly, Bolton has surrounded himself with a host of superb backing musicians. He invited the excellent Sam Fly to the front of the stage to duet with him on 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough' and the David Foster penned 'The Prayer', which was sublime and definitely the most impressive of the cover versions played this evening.

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Bolton teased us (well at least me) when mentioning, "This is a song I wrote in the early eighties." Sadly, it was nothing from his eponymous album or his 'Everybody's Crazy' opus, but his first number one single, 'How Am I Supposed To Live Without You', recorded by the late, great Laura Brannigan. Bolton then strapped on a guitar for a cover of Blues legend Robert Johnson's 'Sweet Home Chicago', followed by a ten minute jam session by his backing band (guitarist Ryan Parrino, bass player Nelson Braxton, drummer Drew McKeon, a pianist whose name eluded me and keyboard player/saxophonist Jason Peterson DeLaire). He left the stage for ten minutes whilst his band entertained with a couple of instrumentals, which sounded like early eighties soundtracks. Bolton obviously needed to use the bathroom and went three times during the show, leaving the stage twice...

At the start of the Percy Sledge classic 'When A Man Loves A Woman' Bolton reappeared in the centre of the downstairs stalls. He was immediately surrounded by adoring female fans; there has not been as many wet knickers in Sheffield since the flood in the Meadowhall M&S lingerie department.

Bolton covered most of the musical genres from his long career, but sadly neglected his Hard Rock era. The latter was a shame as the crowd really got up for the up-tempo Soft Rock numbers like ' How Can We Be Lovers' and 'Steel Bars', so I'm sure one or two Hard Rock songs from his repertoire would have been a welcome addition.

Before the final encore of 'Time, Love & Tenderness' to conclude the ninety-minute set, Bolton introduced his very talented backing band (also Ashley Locheed on backing vocals). They all duly took the deserved applause at the end of the show.

Michael Bolton Live

Review and photos by Mark Donnelly

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