I remember going with my parents in the 60s and early 70s to Las Vegas and seeing some of the great singers perform. My parents had Frank Sinatra and later Tom Jones. For us young adults in the 70s, we had Gino Vannelli. Gino has it all, great looks, outstanding voice and great stage presence, all things required of a great performer. I first saw Gino in 1977 when a young Danny Zelisko, a new concert promoter in the Phoenix area, brought Gino to town. It was like seeing Tom Jones in Las Vegas with all of the ladies going nuts during the show. At that show, Gino had the audience in the palm of his hand and they loved him.
Now skip forward 40 years, and that same promoter brings Gino back to the Talking Stick Resort (TSR) Showroom to a packed house of adoring fans. I saw lots of people that said they were at his 1977 show and a number of mothers that brought their daughters so they could see Gino for the first time. Having been at Gino Vannelli’s 1977 Phoenix concert, I can say that Gino might have grown older like the rest of us, but his looks, voice and stage presence is as good as back at that 1977 show. His voice was strong and clear and with the great acoustics of the TSR Showroom, everyone could hear him perfectly.
They started the show with one of my personal favorites, “Mardi Gras”. The show consisted of a set of greatest hits covering his entire 40 year career. The majority of the songs were from his 70s hit albums, A Pauper in Paradise, Brother To Brother and Nightwalker. They played favorites, “Living Inside Myself”, “Santa Rosa “, “Appaloosa”, and “I Just Wanna Stop”. They ended the main set with Gino’s hit “Brother To Brother” where each of the band members (horns were all together) got to “strut their stuff” and do a mini solo during the song. The crowd was on their feet shouting and cheering, wanting more. After a short break, they came back on stage for a 2 song encore. When they started playing, a lot of the women in the front rushed the stage. They were dancing and singing along with Gino as he sang “People Gotta Move” and “One Night With You”.
Every great singer needs a band to support them. Gino’s band at tonight’s show consisted of Jay Koder on guitar, Damian Erskine on bass, Reinhardt Melz on drums, Greg Goebel on keyboards and a horn section featuring Patrick Lamb on alto and tenor sax, Wes Marshall on trumpet and Jerry Donato on tenor sax. As all great performers do, Gino let each of the band members have a small solo during the show. The two most notable at tonight’s show were Jay Koder on guitar and Patrick Lamb on sax. Both are outstanding musicians.
All great singers are known for that 1 great song. Frank Sinatra had “New York, New York”, Tom Jones has “It’s Not Unusual”. For Gino Vannelli it is “I Just Wanna Stop”. After the show, Gino came out to sign things for his fans and to take photos with them. I believe that about half of the venue was in line. If you get a chance and like to hear a truly gifted singer, then this is a show that you really must see.
Review and photos by Fred Kuhlman
Promoter: Danny Zelisko Presents
Venue: Talking Stick Resort Showroom
Photos © Fred Kuhlman 2017
Set List: (Album)
Mardi Gras (A Pauper in Paradise)
Getting High (Storm at Sunup)
People I Belong To (Brother to Brother)
Living Inside Myself (Nightwalker)
Night Drive (A Good Thing)
Santa Rosa (Nightwalker)
Feel Like Flying (Brother to Brother)
Black Cars (Black Cars)
Gypsy Days (A Good Thing)
Appaloosa (Brother to Brother)
I Just Wanna Stop (Brother to Brother)
Brother To Brother (Brother To Brother)
People Gotta Move (Powerful People)
One Night With You (A Pauper in Paradise)