Coney Island, NY: Air Supply Headlines Seaside Summer Concert Series. Billy Ocean Performs First U. S. Concert in 18 Years
I was having a bit of déjà vu on Thursday as we stood in line waiting to be seated for the Air Supply/Billy Ocean concert at Asser Levy Park in Coney Island. Dark grey clouds loomed overhead, the forecast was bleak, and scattered thunderstorms were expected to arrive late in the afternoon and last into the night. Every half hour that passed brought more threatening storm clouds and news of downpours just a few miles away. Armed with our umbrellas (a lesson learned from the recent Endicott, NY concert in the rain), we hoped for the best but expected the worse.
Arriving at the park earlier in the afternoon, the weather was gorgeous. It was hot and sunny and the local and Billy Ocean and Air Supply crews were working hard setting up and preparing for the night’s concerts. We arrived as Brett, Nate and Mark were doing sound checks and we were able to watch and listen as we walked around the park. Soon after, Air Supply came out and began their sound check. I haven’t ever had the opportunity to see one before, so this was a real treat. Standing about 150 feet back from the stage, we watched as Air Supply sang Even The Nights Are Better. The acoustics were phenomenal in this wide, open area and it was pretty cool to see Air Supply perform this song, but not to a crowd. They performed it as well as they do during a show, but it was a bit more casual. The other spectators standing around were having a great time too, and some even asked who ‘those guys’ were, and then remarked, “Oh…Air Supply! I remember them!”
Billy Ocean’s group came onstage after Air Supply exited. And while Air Supply’s sound check lasted about 30 minutes, Billy Ocean’s lasted a good two and a half hours, maybe three. After his band and back-up singers worked things out for about two hours, Billy Ocean came out and performed three songs for his sound check. It was a lot of fun and it was a great preview for the show to come.
Taking our seats around 7:30, we sat and talked with locals who come to the summer shows each Thursday night. We talked about where we were from, and were invited back multiple times to come to the next week’s show! If I lived in New York, I think I’d love to go to these shows every week. The concerts are free to the public and for a $5.00 donation you can get preferred seating that includes a chair. You have to line up early if you want a great seat, but being a concert in the park, everyone has a good enough seat to enjoy the show! What a great gift to the Brooklyn residents to see such incredible performers.
About 15 minutes before show time, the rain came in. People donned ponchos and we opened our umbrellas and sat in the rain for about 10 minutes. Luckily, it was just a small shower and once over, we never had to pull them out again! So much for the dreary forecast!
Billy Ocean came out a few minutes later and the evening began. Like Air Supply, if you haven’t seen what he looks like in a number of years, it is surprising to see how age creeps up and makes some performers visually unrecognizable to you. Billy Ocean had long, grey dreads, but like Russell Hitchcock, there was no mistaking his crystal clear voice and infectious smile.
Surprisingly, this concert was Billy Ocean’s first U. S. concert in 18 years. We were told he took time off during the pinnacle of his career to be with and raise his family, but I am unsure if he performed outside of the U. S. during this time as it was not announced. However, what was announced, twice, by host Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz was that Billy Ocean and Air Supply would be touring together this year. News to me, I later asked two of the band members about this and they both laughed and said it was news to them as well!
Billy Ocean sang more hits than I could recall him having, and I was having a fantastic time as he sang Mystery Lady, Color of Love, (There’ll Be) Sad Songs, Suddenly, Lover Boy, Get Outta My Dreams (Get Into My Car), When The Goin’ Gets Tough, and his closer Caribbean Queen.
Billy Ocean’s performance was nothing short of spectacular. To say he had charisma wouldn’t quite be complimentary enough. He had incredible interaction with the audience, twice going into the crowd and having people sing parts of the songs. He had us singing a lot with him and the crowd was really digging it! He has a great band, including 3 back-up singers, one of whom was his daughter, a drummer, a percussionist, a keyboardist, a bass player, and a guitar player. They put on a great show, and that might be an understatement.
This being Billy’s first performance in the U. S.in 18 years, there was understandably a large crowd of photographers (see link below for more photos) and fans and Billy did not disappoint anyone. He never stopped smiling and moving and dancing, and I just wanted to get up on stage and dance with him! Billy Ocean and his band far exceeded my expectations and I hope I get to see his show again!
After Billy Ocean, Air Supply came out. Although a “Special Performance by Graham Russell” was advertised, Graham did not sing songs from The Future and Air Supply opened with Even The Nights Are Better. Everyone was on their feet and it was a great way to start the show!
Just As I Am was followed by A Little Bit Of Everything and it’s always interesting to see how the crowd reacts to a relatively unknown Air Supply song. Air Supply always makes this song fun for the audience, and the band, and it always has great personality.
Here I Am and Chances were next and Jed Moss performed a new piece before Faith In Love. When I later asked him what it was, he told me something that was about 10 words long, so I didn’t quite get it. It was a great piece and, again, a treat to hear. The Power of Love was next and Air Supply received yet another standing ovation. The man next to me stood up and applauded after each song, so we did the same. It started a bit of a trend and more and more people started standing after each song.
During The One That You Love, Russell did go out into the audience as much as he could, but there were gates and fences that prevented him from getting out into the audience. That said, he made his way around the barricades as best he could and the fans were screaming for more! Graham quietly made his way down the pathways and by the time he and Russell returned to the stage, the audience was on its feet already singing along. Air Supply continued with The One That You Love, Lost In Love, and Making Love Out Of Nothing At All, closing with All Out Of Love.
Air Supply was simply superb. The energy from the band and audience was high and everyone had a fantastic time.
Thanks go out to Sparky, Brett, Moe, Nate and Mark, and I’ll extend a special thank you to Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz for bringing Air Supply and Billy Ocean together for one fabulous evening. A wonderful time was had by all!
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