July 31--With all the anticipation about the November opening of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Orlando, the fate of the venerable Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre has been pushed to the back burner.
Known as the Orlando Municipal Auditorium when it opened in 1926, the Carr will remain the home for the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra while that ensemble awaits completion of the second phase of the arts center. Otherwise, touring Broadway musicals, Orlando Ballet productions, jazz and pop concerts will be headed to the new $514 million performance hall.
For the next week, however, the Carr will be as busy as ever, hosting shows by R&B singer Maxwell on Saturday, 1970s prog-rock ambassadors Yes on Sunday and classic rockers Crosby, Stills & Nash on Thursday, Aug. 7.
Maxwell's Orlando stop is part of his 35-date "Summer Soulstice" tour, the singer's first extended stretch of concert dates since 2010. Although he hasn't released new material since 2009's "BLACKsummers'night," that drought shouldn't affect the potent hybrid of gospel, soul and funk behind hits such as "Ascension (Never Wonder)" and "Fortunate."
When it comes to new songs, Yes will be equipped: The group released its new "Heaven & Earth" album on July 22. Yet no matter how truly the new material reflects the band's signature harmonies and musicianship, expect oldies such as "Roundabout," "I've Seen All Good People" and "Owner of a Lonely Heart" to be concert highlights.
Oldies also power the threesome of David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash, even though topical new songs such as "Exit Zero" compare favorably with classics such as "Carry On" and "Long Time Gone." At the band's 2013 stop in Orlando, Stills looked a tad off his game, but the trio's stellar backing band elevated the old songs by taking them in new directions.
In Orlando, CSN's nostalgia will be heighten against the backdrop of the Carr. For all the quibbles about the building's acoustics, its lack of a center aisle and adequate bathrooms (the latter are two of my major gripes), I still love going to concerts there.
In honor of the old hall's busy week, I stretched the brain cells to recall a few of my favorites:
--Elvis Costello and the Attractions (Sept. 3, 1982): My first concert at the Carr. Not bad, right? As I recall, Costello and the Attractions were joined by Nick Lowe and Paul Carrack (Squeeze).
--Lyle Lovett and His Large Band (June 6, 1993): Lovett invoked a reference to "The Crying Game" into the opening moments of a lively set that showcased the impressive range of his big band. He offered a shout-out to Orlando magic star Jeff Turner, sitting a row ahead of me.
--Jackson Browne (Nov. 17, 2009): A solo performance by the 1970s singer-songwriter emphasized the Carr's potential for intimacy. With no set list, Browne picked his songs with plenty of help from the crowd.
--James Taylor (May 26, 2011): The air conditioning wasn't working, but Taylor's sweet, smooth performance with his band was worth sweating to the oldies. Best moment: Taylor standing at the edge of the stage to sign autographs throughout the intermission.
--B.B. King (Jan. 3, 2014): No, this wasn't a good performance by the blues legend, but I suspect it might have been my last chance to watch him work. Worth remembering.
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Trio of concerts at venerable Orlando concert hall, 401 W. Livingston St., Orlando. Tickets: 1-800-745-3000 or ticketmaster.com
When: 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 2
When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 3
Who: Crosby, Stills & Nash
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 7
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