First of all a word about the venue, what a building Cincinnati Music Hall is!
We arrived there for the doors opening at 1 pm, which gave us a little time to have a wander round the building, and it’s magnificent. We’ll definitely be returning for a tour of the building. We had a look at the timeline, which was fascinating, particularly the list of artists who have performed there.
Another reason for arriving early was to catch Hickory Robot, who were playing in the foyer as we arrived. We caught them towards the end of their set performing a great version of The Band‘s classic, The Weight.
Our seats were up in the Gallery,and I was somewhat worried about the view when I purchased the tickets, but my fears were unfounded, we had a great view. The set was interesting with a carpet, with a chair and a lamp at each end, with a bust of Stephen Collins Foster, in the middle.
Looking around the audience, it was interesting to see that at the age of 53, I was one of the younger members of the audience! I’m not sure whether that was due to the show being on a Sunday afternoon or whether the American Originals didn’t appeal to the younger generation, which would be a great shame. I have to say this is the first concert I’ve been to where I’ve heard an oxygen tank, three rows behind, being used throughout the performance! Fortunately, it was only noticeable during the interval and the breaks between the songs. I would have hated to ask the user to turn it off!
As for the show itself, where do I begin, it was excellent from start to finish.
The first half opened with a rousing version of the Battle Cry of Freedom. There were many highlights in the first half of the show ,Over the Rhine‘s take on ,Why No One to Love,was beautiful, with Karen Berquist sounding lovely. Dom Flemons performing Old Folks Home was wonderful. Mind you I’m a big fan of Dom Flemons, so there maybe a slight bit of favoritism there!. Rosanne Cash just blew me away with Beautiful Dreamer, she also performed one of her father’s songs, which for the life of me I can’t remember the title of! The first half finished with another highlight, Aoife O’Donovan singing Amazing Grace, ably supported by the Comet Bluegrass Allstars.
The second half had even more high spots! Dom Flemons performing Ring, Ring de Banjo was superb. Joe Henry, reclaiming the Love me Tender tune, for Aura Lee, was another high spot. But for me, Rosanne Cash, singing My Old Kentucky Home was the highlight of the old show. I had a tear in my eye and lump in my throat at the end of this and I’m a Brit who’s only just moved to Cincinnati, god know’s what it did for the Kentuckians in the audience!
The show ended with a rip-roaring version of Camptown Races, with all the performers on stage, contributing to a fitting finale. In fact, they performed it again for the encore.
It was an absolutely superb afternoon’s entertainment. I’m no musical expert, but the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, aka Cincy Pops, sounded incredible. I’m afraid I can’t remember the names of all the soloists, only the conductor, John Morris Russell, who did a fine job, not only of conducting the orchestra, but also of hosting the event. One thing’s for sure, this won’t be my last visit to Cincinnati Music Hall and I definitely want to see the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra again!
One last comment, and this will do my “street cred” no good whatsoever, there were buses outside waiting to take people back to their old folks home! That never happens at the Southgate House Revival!