Aaron Neville – Live at the Berklee Performance Center

Live at the Berklee Performance Center
Aaron Neville
(Boston – October 8, 2006)
by Matthew Robinson

Not content to jump on the contemporary-artists-singing-old-time-classics bandwagon, Aaron Neville celebrated the release of his latest hit-filled album, Bring It On Home… The Soul Classics (Burgundy) with a soulful set of the songs that he grew up with, that sustained him (especially in recent dark times) and that he still sings like nobody else. From a dark and deep “Rainy Night in Georgia” to a sunny Ray tribute “What I Say” to an air guitared take on Van Morrison’s “Crazy Love,” Aaron and his tight troupe went from song to song to song for over two hours with nary a break.

And when Aaron did take a break, Brother Charles led the band with his hot sax through such instrumental crowd-pleasers as a sultry syncopated samba of “Besame Mucho” and a groovy “Ode to Billie Joe.” Losing some of his signature shivery syllables in a humming mic and dropping off the set list for a mumbly “Gypsy Woman,” Neville indeed brought it all back home with his fraternal hit “Yellow Moon.” Though he made no mention of his recently abandoned home, Aaron’s cover of Randy Newman’s “Louisiana” was especially heartfelt and touching and his signature song “Tell it Like it Is” did just that.

Among the lighter moments were a fluid medley from the self-proclaimed graduate of the “University of Doo-wop-ology” that included “Sincerely,” “Daddy’s Home” and the gospel soul of “Send Me Someone to Love” and an encore-closing spelling of the “Mickey Mouse March.” With so many hits and so many ovations, all we can hope is that we M-I-C Aaron again real soon, because this was a truly special night of timeless songs performed by one who truly knew and loves them. ©2006 M. S. Robinson, ARR