- 01 Nov 18
Taking to the Irish stage for the first time in his lengthy solo career, Peter Cetera, resplendent in sparkly showbiz black suit, strides on to the strains of his 1992 hit Restless Heart, and it’s hard not to feel the excitement in the air. By the time he reaches the pre-chorus it becomes evident the trademark voice will be working a couple of octaves lower on some songs this evening, but no matter, he is in fine form and fettle.
Cetera’s Grammy Award-winning music is the definition of MOR Adult Contemporary, and with lesser producers it could have very easily fall into the realm of the bland, but Cetera has always surrounded himself top session men to keep things musically interesting, and his touring outfit The Bad Daddy’s are no different. Cetera’s collaborative efforts with Cher (After All) and Amy Grant (Next Time I Fall) are all given an airing with the help of amazing backing vocalist Tania Hancheroff. Flanked by keyboardist Boh Cooper (Loverboy, Kim Carnes) and Chris Rodriguez (Kenny Rogers, Kelly Clarkson), Cetera works the stage with a natural, old-fashioned kind of charisma; he is an engaging entertainer, amiable and self-deprecating and uses the intimate confines of Vicar Street to his advantage, telling jokes and anecdotes between songs. Cetera gives good banter. He tells of his incredulity of losing out on an Oscar (Best Song, Glory of Love, for Karate Part II) to Berlin’s Take My Breath Away, just as the band sarcastically strike up the iconic notes of the Top Gun song. He tells us, in Sylvester Stallone mumbled drawl, that the song was originally written for Rocky IV. Unfortunately, YouTube videos of previous concerts serves to undermine some of his stories, as certain audience members shout out Cetera’s punchlines before he can reach them himself, though the singer takes it all in good humour, naturally, as it is hard to imagine this performer any less than agreeable.
The Bad Daddy’s do their best to replicate the 1980s studio polish on classic Cetera tracks of the era such as One Good Woman and Glory of Love, while Cetera himself straps on the bass guitar for some well-received Chicago tracks, including the immortal Hard to Say I’m Sorry/Get Away. Instead of the traditional encore walk off, Cetera gives the spotlight to his Bad Daddy band mates to indulge in some lively Beatles covers (Oh! Darling, Come Together).
Vicar Street has at times been the scene of absolute reverence – think of gigs by Bob Dylan, Neil Young, The National – and while Peter Cetera doesn’t quite inspire that kind of absolute, drooling devotion in his fanbase, there are many here tonight with a clear affection for the man’s superior pop songcraft, and it proves to be one of the most entertaining gigs this writer has seen in a while. And any concert that makes one want to go watch Rocky IV and Karate Kid Part II afterward must be lauded.