Uncasville, CT: Air Supply Performs Private Show at Mohegan Sun Arena. 6,000 Guests Experience Air Supply in its Full Glory
This is how every Air Supply concert should be seen by fans, and Air Supply deserves to be in every arena in the country! On Sunday, July 29, 6,000 Mohegan Sun Casino guests were invited to a private Air Supply concert in the Mohegan Sun Arena. Unavailable for purchase, tickets and attendance to this rare event were by invitation only and Airheads packed the arena!
Having received my invitation, I couldn't contain my own excitement at the prospect of being able to see Air Supply in a venue of this size. Most Air Supply concerts I attend typically hold 500 guests on average, so this would be quite the event for me. To witness Air Supply on stage where the sound, lighting and energy would be 10-fold had me waiting impatiently for Sunday night to arrive!
A large portion of the arena was general admission, but a few sections, including ours, had assigned seating. We were located on Russell Hitchcock's side and had a great view, about 10 rows up from the floor. Right below the speakers we knew the sound would be phenomenal. We really couldn't have asked for a better seat!
Having just seen Air Supply in Mohegan Sun's Cabaret Room the four nights prior, we knew what to expect from the Air Supply set list. Beginning right on schedule, the lights dimmed and we heard the all-too-familiar Beatles tune “It won't be long now". Unaware that Graham Russell would be performing, it was a great delight when he walked out on stage and took his bow in the spotlight. Graham introduced himself to the audience and talked about being the opening act for Air Supply. It was a great warm up for the crowd, which is, of course, something Graham always tells us is one of his goals: To warm us up. . . are we warm yet?
I have seen Graham perform The Future, Make You Mine and Lace & Leather in very quaint showrooms and felt it suited him well. To my surprise, Graham commanded this large stage and even larger audience, his voice filling the arena. Amazing! I was incredibly proud of Graham and pleased that he was able to showcase his talent in this vast yet intimate way. The audience loved it!
After Graham finished his three songs, excitement filled the arena. We (and I mean those of us who had just seen them the night before) anticipated that Sweet Dreams would be the opening number, but what we didn't know was how powerful its affect would be in an arena of this size. Fog appeared and the stage glowed red. Jonni Lightfoot quickly ran on stage to ‘press the button’ to begin the show. A new poem spoken by Graham could be heard and the mood was set. As Graham's voice faded, we heard the beginning notes to Sweet Dreams and the arena erupted with applause, whistles and screams! This is what 6,000 fans came to see! Moments later, Russell Hitchcock walked on stage to even more applause and the fans were ecstatic!
Graham and Russell took turns in the spotlight as they began Sweet Dreams, singing the quiet and soft opening. As the song crescendoed to “Sleep! Like a child! Resting Deep! You don't know what you give me I keep, for these moments Alooooooooooooone!" fans were on their feet and Air Supply proved that the once soft-rock/pop group could rock Mohegan Sun's Arena as good as any headline entertainers Mohegan hosts! A quick key change found Russell belting out the chorus to “Young Love" and the audience couldn't hold in it's excitement. As Russell ended, the band moved immediately into Even The Nights Are Better and then Just As I Am. For 15 minutes, the audience had not one moment to catch their breath. They sang, they clapped, they screamed, they danced, they stomped, they whistled and they loved! The energy in the Arena was incredible and Air Supply had more to give. This was JUST the beginning of the show!
Air Supply rocked this arena, and Russell, Graham, Jed, Jonni and Mike's performances were exhilarating. But, and there's often a but, one band member's performance was HOT HOT HOT! Bassist Jonni Lightfoot is an incredible and talented guitarist who always pleases fans and makes the girls swoon. Hottie Jonni, as he is affectionately known, was in rare form this Sunday night and while he may not appreciate my saying this, his performance stole the show. You all know I give credit when performances are outstanding or otherwise memorable, and Jonni's was both.
Having seen Jonni perform about 30 shows, he is always fun and playful on stage. It's typically routine in that there seems to be a time and place for his levity, occurring during certain songs or portions of the show. Well scratch that for Sunday night. From the first song, Jonni's performance far out shined any I've seen from him. More attitude, more animation, more audience interaction, more fooling around with pianist Jed Moss and drummer Mike Zerbe and a whole lot more funk. If you've ever seen Jonni perform his solo during Chances, you know he can kick it like the best guitarists. Just multiply the best of this solo 100 times and that's what you got out of Jonni throughout the show.
Jonni encouraged the audience to clap louder, even cupping his hand to his ear saying, “I can't hear you!" The audience responded and it fueled Jonni and the audience even more. He threw towels out to girls, guitar picks out to fans, and moved across the stage as though he owned it. He shared the stage and spotlight with Graham and Russell and they gave him the freedom to do so. Jonni was clearly in his element and on this stage and with this audience is where Jonni belongs.
To see a little of what I'm talking about, check out these clips posted on YouTube. I can't take credit for them, but a big thanks to the girls who sat 2 rows down from us for posting them! Power of Love Mohegan Lost in Love Mohegan The clips show Jonni waving to the audience, sticking a pick on his forehead, playing with Jed Moss, and rocking out. And on top of it, it truly showcases Russell's unwavering vocals.
The audience at Mohegan Sun was treated to stellar performances by all. Jed Moss’ classical performance before Faith in Love was outstanding, and Mike Zerbe's drumming was awesome. And on top of it, he had nice new shiny cymbals! Let's hope Graham is gentle with these babies!
The audience sang every song with Air Supply and at one point I had to ask my friend to not sing, just so we could hear the rest of the arena singing together. It was 6,000 voices all at once, all singing together. Talk about making a memory!
Russell and Graham did not disappoint fans as they made their customary trek out into the audience during The One That You Love. I have to give credit to Russell who made his way throughout the floor and into the stands to surprise fans with kisses, hugs and handshakes. To do this in a small 350-person venue is challenging enough, but an arena designed for 10,000? Phenomenal. There is never enough time and Russell always runs back to the stage apologizing en route to those he couldn't stop to hug or kiss.
We sang, we cheered, we stood and gave ovations. We few regular Airheads became fans en masse, swaying and singing like we'd never seen them in concert before. We fully appreciated the moment, relishing each song, each lighting detail, each extra oomph given to us. We were swept up in the moment and our adrenaline pumped high. You'd think we'd just seen the Beatles.
Thank you to Russell, Graham, Jed, Jonni, Mike, Sparky, Brett, Moe, Nate and Mark. Switching from the Cabaret Room to the Arena kept you on your toes and you made this one of the best Air Supply shows I have ever seen. Throughout the week you had smiles on your faces and treated the fans like they were friends, welcoming them to every show. Let's hope this private Arena show turns into a fully public Arena show next year. I for one can't wait to see it again!
Betsy Hijazi attends Air Supply concerts and writes reviews and posts video clips on her blog at http://www.AirSupplyBlog.com http://www.MySpace.com/ASFanBetsy and http://www.YouTube.com/ASFanForLife