It was Classic Power Ballad Night at the Hope 9 concert at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, Friday. Not that the show was totally devoted to them, but there was a surprising number of them in the setlist, including “Up Where We Belong,” by Southside Johnny and Layonne Holmes,” “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ ” and “(You’re My) Soul and Inspiration” by Southside and Gary U.S. Bonds, “For Your Precious Love” by Southside, “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” by Franke Previte and Lisa Sherman, and “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Bobby Bandiera.
Bandiera is the ringleader for this concert series, which has raised close to $3 million over the years (not counting this year’s total, which isn’t available yet) for various charities. This year’s beneficiaries were The FoodBank Of Monmouth and Ocean Counties and the Latino outreach programs at Red Bank’s Two River Theater.
In the past, superstars Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi have performed at Hope Concerts. No such luck this year, though it was still a remarkable show that lived up the the series’ impressive tradition.
Gene Cornish of The Rascals was one of guests, and played guitar on three Rascals classics — “How Can I Be Sure,” “Good Lovin’ ” and “I’ve Been Lonely Too Long” — with Bandiera deftly handling the lead vocals.
Southside Johnny sang some of his trademark songs (“I Don’t Want to Go Home,” “Talk to Me”), as did Gary U.S. Bonds (“New Orleans,” “Quarter to Three”), in addition to their surprise covers.
Franke Previte sang his “Hungry Eyes” (from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack album), then returned, later in the evening, for a buoyant duet with Lisa Sherman on that album’s megahit, “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.”
Bandiera challenged himself with “Bridge Over Troubled Water” — a daunting task for any vocalist — but built to the necessary big finish. He also added to the evening’s vintage pop-rock cover theme with Neil Diamond’s “Holly Holy” and a duet with Kristin Cochran on the Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell hit, “You’re All I Need to Get By,” and sang lead on the show’s closing ensemble number, “All You Need is Love.”
Christmas songs were emphasized a bit less than in past Hope concerts, but a few were sprinkled throughout the evening, starting with the show-opening “O Holy Night,” by Sherman.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was singing by New Jersey 101.5 disc jockey (and the show’s host) Big Joe Henry, who — in his “debut as a singer,” according to Bandiera — tackled the Big Bopper’s “Chantilly Lace,” complete with a vintage telephone as a prop. He’s got the deep voice needed to make this cover work, and delivered the lyrics with the appropriate salaciousness, though he was not always in sync with the musicians.
Here is the show’s setlist, and, below it, some videos (thanks to Terry Lee for posting them to YouTube).
“O Holy Night,” Lisa Sherman
“Bridge Over Troubled Water,” Bobby Bandiera
“Chantilly Lace,” Big Joe Henry
“Hungry Eyes,” Franke Previte
“You’re All I Need to Get By,” Kristin Cochran and Bobby Bandiera
“Up Where We Belong,” Southside Johnny and Layonne Holmes
“How Can I Be Sure,” Gene Cornish and Bobby Bandiera
“Justine,” Southside Johnny and Gary U.S. Bonds
“I Don’t Want to Go Home,” Southside Johnny
“Quarter to Three,” Gary U.S. Bonds
“(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” Franke Previte and Lisa Sherman
“(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher,” Gary U.S. Bonds
“Merry Christmas Baby,” Southside Johnny
“You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” Southside Johnny and Gary U.S. Bonds
“For Your Precious Love,” Southside Johnny
“(You’re My) Soul and Inspiration,” Southside Johnny and Gary U.S. Bonds
“Holly Holy,” Bobby Bandiera
“I’ve Been Lonely Too Long,” Gene Cornish and Bobby Bandiera
“New Orleans,” Gary U.S. Bonds
“Good Lovin,” Gene Cornish and Bobby Bandiera
“Talk to Me,” Southside Johnny
“White Christmas,” Tim McLoone and Laurie Cedeno
“All You Need Is Love,” Bobby Bandiera and Ensemble