Short feature and photos by Mary Jane Farmer
Michael Bolton was a walking music machine during his 75-minute set at Choctaw Casino’s Grand Theater Friday night (Nov. 20, 2015), and during that time, he held the audience’s complete respect and attention. He started out explaining “the rules” which (loosely paraphrased) were: Take as many photos as you want to, just try to get them in the best light. And sing along with him.
Bolton started out, first song, sitting on a barstool and picking his acoustic guitar, as the seven musicians behind him kept up a rhythm, melody, and harmonies unparalleled. Behind them, all night long, were backgrounds added by video, but which were only there to enhance, not to distract the listeners. (A few of those backgrounds are included in these photos, just for reference.)
Bolton was, throughout the show, appreciative of those musicians who added such energy and quality to the songs. They played steel guitar, lead guitar, bass guitar, grand piano, drums, saxophone, and sang backup vocals. At times, they would disappear from the stage when a song needed to be presented acoustically; other times, Bolton would leave the stage to give the band completely over to the audience. A few of those times were for a saxophone-led song with strong piano accompaniment. And narrowing that down, one of those times gave Bolton time for one of his concert traditions — to come out into the audience, stand on a kitchen-height stool and let fans take photographs and videos up close and personal. “When A Man Loves A Woman,” was the song he belted out then, and which he finished up after returning to the stage. (You can find the photo, most likely, that he paused to pose for while making that trek to the stool — only hint given here is that the surprise of the camera’s flash is apparent.)
He also presented a couple of songs as duet, with one of his female singers.
This reviewer, there early, was privileged to catch the guitar picker in a 15-minute solo about 3 hours before time for the concert to begin. He came out, sat on the piano bench in the dark auditorium, and picked the sam-hill out of that electric guitar.
Next up, Dec. 3, at The Grand Theater is the Canadian/American band Heart, which has spanned and helped defined rock music since the 1970s. This is billed as a “sold out” concert, but it couldn’t hurt to see if there’s not a few seats still available.
(Sorry, no band names were available, although Bolton mentioned them from the stage, this reviewer was holding a camera instead of pen and paper.)