For the second time in my life, I was able to see Air Supply in a large, non-casino-related venue. The first time was outdoors in Arizona in 1981 when I was a young teenager and the second time was this past Saturday night at the CSCC Performing Arts Center in Springfield, Ohio.
An hour’s drive from Columbus, Springfield, at first glance, seems a quiet, sleepy town out in the middle of nowhere. But as I drove downtown to my hotel, I was pleasantly surprised to see a city center filled with buildings dedicated to the Arts and historic preservation. I couldn’t help but feel that this town was in touch with its love for community and continuing education. It should come as no surprise then that patrons of the Performing Arts Center welcomed Air Supply with open arms.
The Center was quite large, easily able to accommodate operas, plays and other musical performers. The stage was immense, and the curtains must have been at least 35 feet high. At first sight, I knew this would be an incredible venue for Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock to bring to this audience some of that 80s magic I experienced when I was 12.
Opening the show, Graham introduced himself as the “opening act” for Air Supply. He told the audience that he would be performing three songs from his upcoming CD, ‘The Future’, and hoped that we all liked the songs. Having recently had the privilege of hearing Graham perform these three songs in Las Vegas, I can tell you that he sounds better and better with each performance. Perhaps Graham is becoming more comfortable with the live performances. Who’s to know? What I can say is that each song is a testament to Graham’s genius as a songwriter and singer. The audience seemed to truly appreciate the artistry of “The Future”, “Make You Mine” and “Lace & Leather” and I cannot imagine a better venue at which to showcase Graham’s new works.
Finishing his three songs, Graham left and quickly returned to the stage; the curtains opened and Russell, Jed Moss, Jonni Lightfoot, and Mike Zerbe took their places for the new power opener, “Even The Nights Are Better”. Having spied the set list just prior to the show, I knew we were in for a full concert. It was refreshing to be at a venue where the band didn’t have to cut songs due to time constraints.
“Just As I Am”, “A Little Bit Of Everything”, and “Here I Am” were each sung beautifully, as usual. Added back into the schedule was “Chances”, and as Graham spoke to the audience just prior, he joked that they had the King and Queen of Springfield, along with the royal family, in the audience. I’ll admit that I was at first perplexed by this comment, but later realized he was speaking to the patrons in the balcony boxes watching the show below. Pretty funny!
After “Chances” came “Faith In Love”, and then “The River/Sweet Dreams”. Unfortunately, due to an audio issue, “The River/Sweet Dreams” was cut short and a 10-minute intermission was announced. The audience appreciated the break and as we milled about, I heard extremely positive reviews from the patrons with not one comment about the intermission or the song being cut short. I don’t think they even noticed.
The show resumed with the band solo. What a treat to hear Jed sing the first two verses of “Live and Let Die”. Jonni joined in for the third verse (that they sing). It’s nice to see them mix it up a little. I guess you never know what to expect at an Air Supply concert!
Graham and Russell returned and introduced “Two Less Lonely People In The World”. They spoke of how they used to perform in pizza parlors and never got paid. And one thing that came out of that experience is that they now hate pizza! But even better, now they get paid! Russell also interrupted Graham as he mentioned how they met on the first day of rehearsals for Jesus Christ Superstar back in 1975. Russell held up his hand and quietly sang, “Jesus Christ, Superstar…” I think he was hoping someone would join him in the next verse, but not a peep from the audience! Graham then said that Russell would tell us what they would be singing next, and Russell quickly blurted out, “Two Less Lonely People…In The World” as Graham had already started to play it.