There was a free concert Friday morning. This was part of a series of concerts at Bryant Park featuring such music as Counting Crows, Usher, Cyndi Lauper, Boyz to Men, and a couple of others.
Hint: it was free in the sense of no money forked over. It sure wasn’t free as far as I was concerned.
I have to admit, I’m not a particular fan of Chaka Khan. I like her music, but I don’t know much of it and probably wouldn’t have gone if it cost anything. But that’s just my taste and takes nothing away from her talent. What I saw, I pretty much liked. She certainly does have talent, but…
It was in Bryant Park. The notice said from 7am to 9am. I instinctively knew it wouldn’t be a two hour concert. My instincts failed me in that it was really about a 9 minute concert. I got there at just about 7am and saw that it wasn’t that crowded.
Eventually, it did grow to a number of hundreds of listeners, but the park never came close to being even remotely filled.
For the first, oh, hour plus of the concert; very little happened. Chaka Khan was nowhere in sight. The band was playing the same one or two songs over and over and over again. And again. And occasionally doing some jamming…which morphed into the same song or two.
I was incredibly bored. Wow. I sat down and looked at people’s legs for about 30 minutes. There was no seating, but they had spread out a tarp of some sort. So, I sat and looked at people’s legs and tried to figure out what the heck I was doing there.
Bored I tell ya.
And then the GMA hosts came out. Here they are talking into their microphones. Not to the crowd, mind you. Their mics were geared to talking on the TV, not to the loudspeakers.
Yeah, we watched them mouth words. For all I knew they were hurling mighty invective towards the suckers that expected to hear something besides the same song or two, over and over.
About 8:30, we got the words that Chaka was on the way. Two minutes were called.
About five minutes later, Chaka came out and appeared to start singing. Her mic wasn’t on. The amazing thing is that we had watched some guy testing the mic earlier and having no luck with it. Apparently they expected that Chaka would overcome that particular hurdle. Thankfully, about 30 seconds into the song, she realized what was going on and stopped. Otherwise, it would have been one of those same tunes we have been listening to for so long.
I will say this: she did have some magic. She started testing it, failed, and then shouted out to the crowd that she was going to get it fixed. We heard her, then. She has a great voice. You could just seeing her dominating a concert hall with that strength.
A couple of minutes later, she came out and did one of the songs that had been playing over and over again. It was fine. I wasn’t overwhelmed…I had heard it before. Over and over before. I had even heard it sung: one of her backup singers had done it during the first hour. (And I had spent the time saying to myself: “I don’t think that’s Chaka. I haven’t seen her in years and years, but I don’t think it’s her.” Not to take anything away from the backup singer; she was pretty good.)
So, Chaka did her song and then got interviewed by the GMA hosts. I don’t want to even bother knowing who they are. They didn’t care if we heard them and I don’t care to know their names. The only time we heard their voices was when their voices leaked over Chaka’s mic to the loudspeakers.
Chaka then sang two more songs. One of which was the other song we had heard lo those many times (I think). I don’t really know her music so differentiating it was tough for me. Lots of the crowd knew the words, though. Not me.
I left before the third song finished. The below is what the crowd looked like at that point. Not crowded, but we had stood there in a very light rain. (And a lot of people had opened their umbrellas and didn’t care about blocking other’s view despite the very lightness of the rain. That was fascinating, but had nothing to do with the concert. Well, what there was of a concert.)