Michael Bolton at the Royal Albert Hall
The early 80s was a time when the words “soft” and “rock” were used to define the typical sound of a romantic ballad; in other words, love songs for lonely rockers in leather jackets and tight-fitting jeans, with long wild hair. This genre became popular thanks to several successful artists – Chicago, Hall & Oates, Meat Loaf and Toto among others – but arguably it is Michael Bolton that has pushed the genre to its climax. In fact, Bolton’s Michael Bolton (1985), The Hunger (1987), Soul Provider (1989) and Time, Love and Tenderness (1990) are the prototypical soft rock records that managed to transform this rock singer into a living legend. After 17 records, almost 40 years in his career and 53 million albums sold around the globe, Bolton can be rightfully considered the greatest artist in this kind of sub-genre, and last night, this 61-year-old showed the audience at the Royal Albert Hall how a real (soft) rock star behaves.
In this live performance, Bolton sang his number one hits alongside a few songs from his new record Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: A Tribute to Hitsville USA, rich in soulful Motown covers. The show started out calm and serene, with a reassuring Bolton at the guitar singing Soul Provider, To Love Somebody and his famous version of Otis Redding’s Dock of the Bay. A super bluesy cover of Sweet Home Chicago created a spark in the atmosphere, exciting the audience and heating up the venue, while two instrumental rock funk moments sent the crowd into an unexpected dance frenzy.
The second part of the live show was dedicated to the duets with his backing singers Amanda Brown (singing Marvin Gaye’s Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing and How Am I Supposed to Live) and Kelly Gems (Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, The Prayer and a poppy version of Puccini’s Nessun Dorma). The finale of the show was an explosion of pure rock ’n’ roll; a medley of Steel Bars, Time, Love and Tenderness and Rock Me, with Bolton interacting more and more with the fans, jumping off the stage and belting out When a Man Loves a Woman among the crowd. Finally, the encore of super funk classic Can I Touch You There? completed an enjoyable and ultimately successful show in London.
Bolton performs perfectly what his audience is craving: a genuine, classic and comforting radio-friendly night of soft rock, rich in poignancy as much as technique and feeling. His powerful voice and superb seven-piece band ensured that the performance showed a winning artist, with many things still to say about life and love.
Photos: Melissa Harper
For further information and future events visit Michael Bolton’s website here.
Watch the video for Can I Touch You…There? here: