Eighties night on your favorite radio station came alive Friday.
Pop star Debbie Gibson and singer Sam Harris performed songs by U2, Foreigner, Cyndi Lauper, Men at Work, Rick Springfield, Journey, George Michael and many others with the Omaha Symphony.
At the Holland Performing Arts Center, hundreds of fans sang along with Gibson and Harris, as well as the singers from an outstanding backing rock band. It was the debut of the duo's “Don't Stop Believing: Songs From the '80s” concert.
“Did anyone tell you this is our maiden voyage?” Harris asked. “You guys are our Omaha guinea pigs.”
“I was wondering if this was going to be more of an '80s crowd or a symphony crowd,” Gibson said to lots of cheers.
The pop star behind hits such as “Lost in Your Eyes” and “Foolish Beat” was the main attraction for the show, and Gibson performed those songs as well as “Shake Your Love” and a medley of her favorite '80s songs that included “Billie Jean,” “Like a Virgin,” “You Got It (The Right Stuff)” and “The Best,” among others.
Unfortunately, Gibson's voice hasn't gotten better with age. Her vocals were laid bare in front of the sweeping sound of the symphony, and it was apparent she couldn't hold a note longer than a few seconds.
From my seat, I also couldn't hear the symphony very well. The backing band's drum kit was right in front of me and almost completely drowned out the orchestra except on quieter songs such as “Time After Time” and “Up Where We Belong.”
Harris, on the other hand, was wonderful. The “Star Search” winner and stage actor sang his signature tune, “Over the Rainbow,” as well as songs by U2, George Michael and Journey.
All of the songs had Harris' interpretation on them and sounded like someone adapted them into peppy numbers in a Broadway rock musical like “Rock of Ages.”
Of the 21 songs that were performed, Gibson and Harris sang only 11 of them.
The symphony, conducted by Ernest Richardson, sat behind a rock band of five members, including bass, drums, guitar, keyboards and vocalists. When Gibson and Harris weren't onstage, the band's vocalists took over and played them just as well.
Singer-guitarist Michael Johnson and vocalist Christine La Fond could have done the concert by themselves — and quite a few people remarked as much as we walked out of the Holland Center.
Still, Gibson and Harris — and the symphony, too — did a fine job, especially with the concert's finale.
After Harris' turn onstage, Gibson rejoined him (with a costume change, of course) and they did a duet of “Up Where We Belong.”
The final song was Journey's “Don't Stop Believing,” and everyone with a microphone took a verse. The audience sang along, too, and some fans dressed in '80s-style gear ran to the stage and danced to the song.
Gibson and Harris were all smiles as they sang the song together and danced with their fans.
“Good night, everyone,” Harris said. “Thank you so much.”
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