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October 15, 1985 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1985-10-15

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily

Tuesday, October 15, 1985

Page 5

The

Nylons invade the final frontier

By Andy Rosenzweig
A MERICANS TEND to think of the
U.S. as the center of the musical
world, and that real success can't be
had without a hit in America. But
countless bands have attained world-
wide success before hitting the U.S.,
and eventually conquered America
too. Saturday night, the Nylons
proved their intention of becoming
the next successful imports.
The Nylons are a Toronto-based
quartet of singers who combine the
traditional elements of doo-wop
singing with modern sound produc-
tion. The result, both live and on
record, is an appealing blend of new
and old that has won millions of fans
in Canada and throughout the world
over the past four years. The U.S. is
essentially the final frontier for the

Nylons; their first U.S. release, One
Size Fits All, came out recently, and
Saturday's Power Center performan-
ce was a part of their first concen-
trated tour of America.
The group blazed onstage for the
first half of the show with "Me and the
Boys," their tribute to the spirit of
street corner singing, which
featured solos by each member. This
number set the tone for the rest of
the performance with its flashy
choreography and high-energy
vocals.
The first half of the show consisted
mostly of covers of crowd-pleasing
'60s standards and doo-wop tunes,
ranging from the Beatles' "This Boy"
to the Chiffons' "One Fine Day." One
of the highlights of the first half was
the performance of "Please," one of
the Nylon's original tunes, a contem-
plative ballad about breaking up

which is currently receiving local
airplay.
The Nylons' performance was an
interesting blend of music and
theatrics, arising from the members'
previous careers as musical theatre
actors. Each piece was thoughtfully
staged and choreographed, and the
group maintained a high level of
energy throughout the show. The in-
troductions between songs were ob-
viously well-planned and often
humorous, although they tended to be
somewhat corny and campy. I got the
feeling that some parts of their act
would play better in a nightclub than
on a concert stage.
According to Nylons member
Paul Cooper, the band's set-up in-
cludes $60,000 worth of electronic ef-
fects which help to create the group's
live sound. While the harmonizers,
digital delays, and reverb systems
used by the Nylons certainly con-
tribute to the up-to-date sound the
group has, it was often evident that
the singers were somewhat over-
powered by the effects. At times there
was such a cloud of time delays and
reverb that it became difficult to hear
the music. Perhaps this accounted for
a nagging tuning problem that per-
sisted throughout the performance,

centering particularly on bass Arnold
Robinson, whose tremendous voice
was too often approximate in pitch
and out of tune with the rest of the
group.
The second half of the 23-song, 100-
minute performance featured the
Nylons' own music, centering on the
songs from One Size Fits All. The
audience, obviously well-acquainted
with this material, responded en-
thusiastically.
The set began with "Up the Ladder
to the Roof," an uplifting, post-Diana
Ross Supremes song that was an
audience favorite despite the in-
creasingly obvious tuning problems.
After the set of original material,
the Nylons virtually stopped the show
with their version of Carole King's
"Up on the Roof," beautifully sung by
tenor Marc Connors, who throughout
the show proved to be the group's
vocal standout. This was the best-
sung piece of the evening, and I think
much of its success can be attributed
to its relatively basic production.
Reverb and echo were used
minimally in the song's mix, allowing
for near-perfect tuning by the singers.
The final number of the evening
was the perennial favorite
"Wimoweh" ("The Lion Sleeps

Tonight"). Connors' solo and Claude
Morrison's super-human falsetto daz-
zled the audience and brought them to
their feet at the end of the song.
The group was brought back for two
encores, a burning version of Bruce
Springsteen's "Fire," and the red-
hot, Gospel-influenced "Something
About You," which showed off Arnold
Robinson's fantastic voice and range.

The Nylons are decidely confident
of their potential, having already
achieved a high level of success
throughout the rest of the world. As
Cooper told the audience late in the
performance, "Just wait - next time
we're here there'll be about 3,000
people saying they were here
tonight."
Cocky, perhaps, but few in the
audience left doubting the claim.

Lisz-tless show

By Neil Galanter
I MAGINE AN ALL Liszt piano
recital. Now picture an accom-
plished virtuoso pianist who has been
hailed as the French Pollini for his
technical perfection. What should the
result be? Naturally, an evening of
music making on a grand scale. But
as to whether Francois-Rene
Duchable actually achieved this in his
Thursday night performance at
Rackham Auditorium - well, yes,
and no, is the best answer,
Duchable without a doubt used his
technical prowess to the utmost
throughout the show, However, at
many points during the recital he
didn't do much more than that,
-His performance of Liszt transcrip-
tions of Mozart's Don Giovanni,
Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique,
and Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin
were polished and sparkling, with
admirable cleanliness. However, the
tone quality seemed harsh and brittle
much of the time.
On the positive side, Don Giovanni
moved with bounce and verve every
step of the way.
During the "Ball (Dance)" section
of the Berlioz, Duchable emitted
showers of color from his Steinway
a ine-foot concert grand, as he ex-

plored a variety of musical shapes
and touches.
Duchable devoted the last half of
his recital to the Liszt Sonata in B
Minor, a milestone in Liszt's com-
positional efforts as well as in the
world of piano. It demands an equal
balance of driving fierceness and
lyricism for a successful performan-
ce.
Duchable attained much of the
necessary fierceness, with many ex-
citing and stirring moments,
However, the lyrical moments were
few and far between. Duchable
neglected almost all the major oppor-
tunities to breathe emotion into the
piece; instead his rendition crackled
along with no respite.
The encore, Chopin's Mazurka,
Opus 17 No. 4, was performed with
marvelous, almost poetical
animation. There were some quirky
and uncustomary details in
Duchable's interpretation, but all for
the better.
My biggest criticism, however, was
the constant grating tone quality.
Possibly the roughness of tone was
due to piano, but whatever the case it
was really unfortunate for both
Duchable and the audience.

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