The Sixties Rock ‘N’ Roll Revue @ Count Basie Theatre

RED BANK—I’m sure many in the sold out crowd at the Count Basie Theater thought they were coming to see an oldies show when they headed into the venue for The Sixties Rock ‘N’ Roll Revue. But what they got was an in-your-face rock concert, as vital and current a show as any of today’s twenty-somethings could deliver, and with the intensity that showed why these guys were the influences that artists like Bruce Springsteen took their cues from.

Before the legends hit the stage, special guest John Cafferty came out to warm up the crowd. While not a ‘60s artist, he’s been a shore favorite ever since his soundtrack for the hit movie Eddie & The Cruisers was a mainstay at rock radio in the ‘80s. As the initial strains of “On The Dark Side” started the show off, John soon got the crowd on its feet by walking into the audience, and on top of the theater seats, working his way well into the crowd.

Blasting through his other hits, such as “Things Are Tough All Over,” he managed to get an ovation after his short set, usually reserved for a headliner. And the solo in “Tender Years” brought an especially rousing response for sax player Danny Cipriano, who was part of the house band, The Roadhouse Rockers, who backed the first three artists on the bill.

After John left the stage, the lights came down and a video screen rose above the motorcycle that was parked on the stage. Clips of Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels from ‘60s television appearances set the mood and the band played the first chords of C.C. Ryder. Mitch walked out to great applause, and with each song upped the ante, culminating with the rock staple “Devil With The Blue Dress.” Mark “Big Daddy” Leimbach tore up the guitar solos, and by the time Mitch left the stage the audience was on its feet, having witnessed one of the pioneers of rock and roll, who showed why he has been a purveyor of the sound that countless artists since have adopted as their own.

Mitch also added levity to the evening, with some between song banter that poked fun at the fact that he is still rocking while over age 70. The audience ate it up.

Next up was Jersey shore favorite Gary U.S. Bonds. While many at the shore think of Gary as part of the shore/Springsteen sound, he was actually one of the originators of “party rock,” with six top ten hits in early ‘60s, such as the chart topping “Quarter To Three” and “New Orleans.”

And his influence extended well beyond our shores. When a recent PBS special called John Lennon’s Jukebox aired, it revealed that only two artists had more than one record in John’s home jukebox; they were Little Richard and Gary U.S. Bonds. Another little known fact is that on one of the early rock and roll tours he did of England, Gary’s backup band was a then-unknown group called The Beatles. A funny side note—Gary fired them after a few shows. Raw and unschooled at the time, they just weren’t cutting it and Gary and the other touring artists replaced them.

On this night Gary was in top form, going through a medley of his ‘60s hits, and then running trough some of the ‘80s classics he recorded with Springsteen and Little Steven, such as “This Little Girl” and “Out Of Work.” By the time he closed with “Quarter To Three,” the crowd was on its feet, dancing and singing. Gary is great entertainer and singer, young artists would do well to watch and learn from him.

After a brief intermission, again filled with clips of vintage performances from Ed Sullivan, American Bandstand and other ‘60s TV shows, Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals came out. Felix ran through the extensive catalog of Rascals hits. It’s the kind of show where you don’t realize just how many hits an artist had, until you hear them one after the other. “Groovin’,” “I Been Lonely Too Long,” “You Better Run,” “Beautiful Morning,” “People Got To Be Free,” “Mustang Sally” and of course, “Good Lovin’,” all had the audience singing along.

Felix had some fun as well, doing a medley of songs that ranged from “What’s Going On” to “Whole Lotta Love.”

The revelry continued at an open-to-the-public after party at a local hotel bar. But unlike many of today’s rock stars, the artists all joined in and mingled with the fans, signing autographs and talking to people until late in the night. Gary U.S. Bonds even joined the hotel bar band for an impromptu song.

The show was a one night only event, but it went so well and got such a great audience response that there is talk of doing more dates with the line-up, perhaps even a short tour. If the show comes through this area again, no matter what your musical taste, you should catch it. It features the musicians who created the sounds that developed rock and roll as we know it today. And they were doing it back in the days before multi-track recording and AutoTune, when you had to play the music live in the studio. They’re the real deal. Don’t miss them when you have the chance.