COCKER SHAKES, ROCKS & SOULS; 'DEAD' ALIVE
NEW YORK - The Pavilion, an outdoor rock ballroom that is really a remnant of the 1964 World's Fair, opened July 11 with a large crowd cheering through several hours of heavy rock played by Tribe, Joe Cocker and the Grease Band, and the Grateful Dead.
The former New York State Pavilion is a unique place to listen to music, with the multi-million-dollar unisphere in plain view and a huge map of New York State painted on the floor of the "ballroom" creating a surrealistic atmosphere. Despite acoustics which made hearing a problem in some parts, the Pavilion offers a relaxed atmosphere which facilitates moving around, dancing, or hanging out, making it a kind of East Coast, outdoor Fillmore West.
The musical highlight of the evening was Joe Cocker and the Grease Band. Cocker is one of the top rock personalities around today. With a presence that dominates and a voice that can really wail, he goes through the most well-known material, leaving the listener stunned with the freshness and excitement that he returns to it. The A&M artist takes Dylan songs, Beatles songs, and Ray Charles songs and makes them all sound like they were written just for him. Writhing his arms, twisting around the stage, and making every note that he sings come alive, he exudes a quality that could only be described as soul, while creating the sexual excitement that is what good rock is all about.
Cocker is a hard act to follow, but the Grateful Dead were up to the task. Bringing the crowd to its feet, the underground favorites were at their best when playing their recent country-flavored numbers like "Dupree's Diamond Blues," which is from their current Warner Bros. LP, "Aoxomoxoa." They also did quite a bit of their old blues-influenced material like "Hard to Handle" and, of course, "Sittin' on Top of the World," but it sounded stale compared with their newer work.
Also on the bill was Tribe, a jazz-blues group from the Bronx. With Tom Miller on sax, Craig Justin on drums, Dion Grody on guitar, and Lanny Brooks on bass, they produce a polished sound which will undoubtedly attract a record company.
(by Dan Goldberg, from Billboard, August 2, 1969)
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