Lisa Rock knew she could please an audience without much trouble. All she had to do was sing songs by the Carpenters. There were many, many to choose from.
However, the Chicago-based singer put together an outstanding six-piece band and entertained us well from beginning to end.
The weather outside was cold and snowy but the nearly capacity audience sat back, relaxed and absorbed the soothing, magical sounds that The Carpenters gave to us.
Rock filled our minds full of interesting trivia about the brother/sister act throughout the show. For example, the duo's record of 15 No. 1 hits was finally broken last year. While The Carpenters achieved that milestone in nine short years, it took Sir Elton John 40 years to break it.
Rock's band consisted of a backup singer who also played some percussion, a keyboard player, horn man, drummer, bass guitarist and the music leader playing the grand piano. The keyboard player was the only member of the band from Iowa. His name was Alex and he was from Solon.
I have reviewed well over 100 performances and this is the first time I saw a pianist use an iPad instead of sheet music. It was interesting to watch as she only had to tap the screen rather than reaching to turn pages. It was very efficient. Alex used one at the keyboards but the bass player and horn virtuoso used sheet music.
The keyboardist and female backup singer did a beautiful job of harmonizing. They were extremely good.
The show began appropriately with "We've Only Just Begun." Many of us found ourselves singing along on many of the numbers and the group on stage encouraged us to do so.
Among my favorites were "Superstar," "There's a Kind of Hush" and our audience sing-along to "Sing, sing a song.....;" which we did enthusiastically just prior to intermission.
The group did a sort of musical chairs change during the second half of the show. For two numbers, Alex left the keyboard to play drums, the bass player picked up a lead guitar, the drummer played bass and the horn man moved to the keyboard. The resulting lead guitar solo in the next number, "Top of the World," was wonderful!
It was only a few days before Valentine's Day, so the love songs were very appropriate. However, some were also sad, like Karen Carpenter's hit "I Know I Need to Be In Love."
Here is another piece of trivia we learned. When Richard wanted his sister out from behind her drums to use her beautiful singing voice, he brought in another drummer. It was Cubby O'Brien from the Mouseketeers. Unfortunately for us "senior" members of the audience, the young musicians on stage could not name any of the original Mouseketeers. I suddenly had to acknowledge my age.
The seven outstanding musicians on stage closed out their "Close To You; the Music of the Carpenters" show with, of course, "Close To You." A standing ovation brought them back for an encore before we had to leave the magical music of The Carpenters and go home. Thank you Lisa Rock and band for coming to the Iowa Great Lakes Region before leaving for the warmth of California, Arizona, Texas and Florida for the next two months.
It was a wonderful evening of superbly performed music that was enjoyed by everyone there.