Barry Gibb’s show at Nikon at Jones Beach Theater last night featured a spectacular special effect that will likely never be duplicated on the rest of his “Mythology” tour.
During the lovely disco-era ballad “How Deep Is Your Love” – just as he reached the famous line “I feel you touch me in the pouring rain” – it began to drizzle. Lucky for the crowd at Nikon at Jones Beach Theater’s opening night, the pouring rain held off until near the end of the show, but the drizzle actually magnified the emotion of Gibb’s heartfelt tribute to his brother Andy, who died in 1988, and his twin brothers in the Bee Gees, Maurice and Robin, who died in 2003 and 2012, respectively.
Often throughout the two-hour show, Gibb looked choked up or on the verge of tears as he offered remembrances of his brothers. “I miss my brothers,” he said before launching into the powerful ballad “Immortality,” which the Bee Gees wrote for Celine Dion. But that was clear practically from the moment he took the stage.
Though Gibb was always the lead singer of the Bee Gees, a major part of the group’s charm was wrapped up in the brothers’ memorable harmonies. It’s easy to see why the “Mythology” tour is Gibb’s first solo tour and why he was hesitant to launch it.
Even with the help of three backing singers – including the impressive Beth Cohen, who handled the Barbra Streisand parts of “Guilty” and “Woman in Love” – Gibb’s solo vocals, as surprisingly well-preserved as they were, only underscored what was missing. In older songs like “To Love Somebody” and “I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You,” the brothers’ harmonies were so important to the sound that Gibb singing them alone changes their feel, making them feel more desperate and lonely.
That’s not to say Gibb’s show is a downer. After all, he and his brothers brought disco to the mainstream, making showy choreography and line dancing to “Night Fever” and “Stayin’ Alive” staples of wedding receptions and bar mitzvahs around the world for generations. Gibb was at his best with the dance numbers, with the opener “Jive Talkin’” and “Nights on Broadway” holding up especially well nearly four decades later, as he effortlessly went for the falsettos and the breathy accents that are his distinctive trademark.
However, it was his cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire,” a response to Springsteen’s decision to tackle “Stayin’ Alive” at his recent concerts in Australia, that offered a glimpse at what may be next for the 67-year-old. His warm delivery and powerful presence made the song his, showing that Gibb is a viable star for the future, not one simply reliving his past – no matter how thrilling it was.
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SETLIST: Jive Talkin’ / You Should Be Dancing / Lonely Days / Our Love (Don’t Throw It All Away) / To Love Somebody / How Can You Mend a Broken Heart / Stayin’ Alive / How Deep Is Your Love / On Time / I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You / In the Morning / New York Mining Disaster 1941 / Run to Me / I’m on Fire / Spirits (Having Flown) / With the Sun in My Eyes / I Started a Joke / Spicks and Specks / One / Islands in the Stream / Guilty / Woman in Love / Nights on Broadway / Night Fever>More Than a Woman / Grease / Immortality // ENCORE: Words / Tragedy