The Richmond Register

Local News

November 29, 2012

Michael Bolton — still my mom’s music (wait, I’m a mom)

‘Quintessential balladeer’ performs at EKU Center for the Arts

RICHMOND — I’m 30, so I’m old/young enough to remember when Michael Bolton’s soft-rock ballads of the late 80s/early 90s dominated the radio. That husky and raspy voice was always distinguishable.

As much as I considered his music only stuff my mom would listen to — especially after I started listening to punk rock in high school — that didn’t mean I never stopped what I was doing, turned the radio up, and fist pumped through my own rendition of “When a Man Loves a Woman” (I ain’t gonna lie).

When Bolton came to the EKU Center for the Arts Tuesday night, he didn’t disappoint his long-time fans.

He introduced a mix of some of his work with “vintage” songs like “Georgia on My Mind” and “You Don’t Know Me.” But, he also made sure to give us plenty of those 90s songs you love to sing in the shower, including his Grammy award-winning “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You” and “When a Man Loves a Woman,” reminding us why women continue to line up in front of the stage with outstretched hands.   

After the first few songs, Bolton takes off his jacket and the crowd responds with, well, the kind of hoopin’ and hollerin’ that goes on when anyone starts to take off their clothes.

“It’s not that kind of show,” he joked. “I’m just playing my guitar.”

Register photographer, Kaitlin Keane, turns to me and said, “This guy is pretty funny.”

Being almost a decade younger than me, Kaitlin had to create a Spotify music gallery of Bolton’s greatest hits to prepare for the concert.

When we got to the Center, she and I were a little concerned about permission to take photos, but Bolton gave us permission himself.

“We encourage you to take all the pictures you care to take — cell phones, cameras, or whatever method you have. Just get me in the good light,” he said to the audience. “Feel free to touch them up in Photoshop.”

No matter what you think about Bolton and his music, his voice was the same as ever, and sounded as if you were listening to a studio recording. As he belted out his lyrics, Bolton took the squinty-eyed, white-knuckled power stance — the kind of stance you take when singing any early 90s soft-rock ballad.

To my surprise, he played a mean guitar while he sang Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay.” I guess I had never pictured him with a guitar; I was impressed. He is obviously a polished performer and musician, not just some love-song crooner.

In fact, Bolton’s earliest influences were soul and rhythm and blues greats like Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder. By the time he was a teenager, he was into rock ‘n roll and heavy metal.

In the 1970s, he was lead singer for the heavy-metal band Blackjack, which once toured with Ozzy Osbourne, according to a TV Guide biography.

When his band dissolved in the late 70s, he turned to songwriting to support his three daughters.

A turning point in his career came when his song, “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You” was performed by songstress Laura Branigan and it skyrocketed to the top of adult contemporary charts in 1983. “It stopped my rent checks from bouncing,” Bolton joked Tuesday.

Six years later, his rendition of the same song earned him a Grammy award.

“I was an 18-year overnight success story,” Bolton said of his music career before he made it big.

Joining him on stage was a pianist, drummer, bassist, guitarist, and a female back-up singer who also was a brilliant trumpeter.

Jazz saxophonist Michael Lington accompanied many of the songs, a signature sound in Bolton’s most famous tracks. It didn’t matter that we weren’t in the 1990s anymore, the sound of the saxophone always takes me back there (and makes me want to light some candles and pour some wine).

Later in the set, singer/songwriter Kelly Levesque joined him for a few duets, including one of my favorites “Make You Feel My Love.” I first heard this song in the 1998 film Hope Floats (you know, the one with Sandra Bullock). I knew Garth Brooks, Adele, Kelly Clarkson and Billy Joel had all covered it, but Bob Dylan wrote the song, Bolton said.

The song is a track on Bolton’s 21st studio album “Gems – The Duets Collection” released in June 2011. The album features productions by acclaimed musicians, producers and songwriters and includes popular songs such as “Fields of Gold,” “Over The Rainbow” and “Hallelujah.”

However, I’m inclined to say some of his best recent work was on the track “Jack Sparrow” by The Lonely Island — the Emmy-winning, Grammy-nominated comedic trio comprised of Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, made famous by their work on Saturday Night Live. The track has almost 95 million views on YouTube since its release in 2011.  

At the beginning of the music video, Bolton tells the trio that he just finished watching The Pirates of the Caribbean movie series and “I wrote you this big sexy hook I think you’re going to really dig.”

As the boys of The Lonely Island start laying down a hot beat and some mad lyrical flow, Bolton busts in with a few signature 90s-era “yeah, yeahs” and vocal riffs.

The video cuts to Bolton parodying himself by singing on the beach with a few undone buttons on his shirt just like in his video for the 1993 hit single “Said I Love You … But I Lied.”

The only thing missing from his cheesy romance-novel-cover persona were those long luscious locks of brown, curly hair blowing in the wind. Stirring much unexpected controversy, Bolton chopped off his famous mane/mullet in 1997.  

In fact, when you Google “mullet,” Bolton’s picture is among the mullet greats such as Billy Ray Cyrus, A.C. Slater from “Save By The Bell” and Joe Dirt.

Although in “Jack Sparrow,” Bolton seemed to embrace his label as “the quintessential sensitive and sexy balladeer,” there was a time when critics got to him (haters gotta hate!).

In a 1993 interview in Us magazine, Bolton said that the change from rhythm and blues to emotional love songs represented a “big crisis” for him.

“You lose a great deal of the male support that would be there and respect you for your voice, but who can’t deal with the subject matter,” he said. “So you lose your male audience and you incur the wrath of the critics.”

But for some of us, those emotional love songs are the reason he and his majestic mullet will forever be in our memories.

R.I.P Michael Bolton’s mullet, 1954 – 1997.

Crystal Wylie can be reached at cwylie@

richmondregister.com

or 623-1669, Ext. 6696.

 

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 7-29 YMCA-Schools.jpg YMCA, county district to provide after-school care

    The Telford YMCA is partnering with the Madison County School District to provide after-school child care for kindergarten and elementary students.
    YMCA Executive Director Dave Wallace and Madison County School Superintendent Elmer Thomas announced the partnership Monday afternoon.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • 7-29 Lucille May 1.jpg Memories bloom in May’s garden

    After realizing a story was being written about 96-year-old Lucille May, tenants of Willis Manor gathered in the lobby to share stories about her.
    Affectionately called “Mamaw” by other residents and workers at the apartment building, May has spent the four years of her residence transforming an outdoor garden that was overtaken by weeds. It’s now a thriving flowerbed, complete with interesting rocks, decorations and conversation.

    July 29, 2014 4 Photos

  • 7-29 Construction 1.jpg Water Street storm-water digging begins

    Caisson holes were drilled and then filled with concrete and steel poles Monday to create a retaining structure to shore up the Allstate Insurance building foundations' firm when excavation for the Water Street Stormwater Improvement Project begins.
    Digging for 20 ton, 6 by 7 foot concrete box culverts will begin today, if weather permits, said Jason Hart, Richmond’s director of Planning and Zoning. The culverts will help reduce the likelihood of flooding on Water Street by carrying storm water under Main Street, the CVS parking lot and Irvine Street to a stream, he said.

    July 28, 2014 4 Photos

  • 7-29 Robert Abney.jpg RPD: Bottle bomb injures man, damages neighbor’s home

    Richmond Police on Friday charged Robert Abney, 30, of Moberly Avenue, in connection with a May 30 explosion that injured Abney and damaged a neighbor’s home.
    Officers were dispatched May 30 to a residence in the 500 block of Moberly Avenue to investigate the report of an explosion.
    They found the remains of a plastic bottle bomb near a residence adjoining Moberly’s, according to an RPD news release. A wall of the occupied home was smoldering and grass was burned in the area, it added.

    July 28, 2014 4 Photos

  • 7-29 Steven Coffey.jpg Two led police on I-75 chase from Berea

    Berea Police found a man passed out and intoxicated inside his crashed vehicle on Interstate 75 Wednesday, according to a police report.
    Steven Coffey, 34, of Berea, had slurred speech and was unsteady on his feet when officers arrived at the vehicle, the police report stated. They determined he was under the influence of drugs, the report stated.

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • 7-27 HeartChase 1.jpg A race to the finish line

    Sheltered by overcast sky and supported by a cool breeze, teams competed Saturday morning in the second annual HeartChase at Richmond Centre.

    July 26, 2014 6 Photos

  • 7-27 Hops 1.jpg Hops & Vine Festival raises money for humane society

    Downtown Richmond’s Hops and Vine Festival started more than two years ago with a question.

    July 26, 2014 3 Photos

  • Bill Clinton will stump for Grimes in eastern Kentucky

    Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes is again calling in the “Big Dog” in her quest to unseat five-term Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell.

    Former President Bill Clinton will join Grimes on Aug. 6 for a campaign rally in eastern Kentucky, according to a campaign official who would provide no further details.

    July 26, 2014

  • 7-26 Stockyards 2.jpg Cattle farmers enjoying ‛perfect storm’

    Demand is up, and cattle are selling for record prices.

    At the same time, corn prices are down and fuel prices have stabilized.

    That adds up to a “perfect storm” for Kentucky cattle farmers, said Gary Kelly of Paint Lick as he ate lunch Friday with his brother Jimmy at the restaurant across from the Blue Grass Stockyards.

    July 26, 2014 5 Photos

  • 7-26 Fire Practice Structure 1.jpg Fire training tower going up

    A new training tower for the Richmond Fire Department is rising on Four Mile Road.

    Construction began Thursday on the four-story, steel-framed structure.

    July 26, 2014 4 Photos

AP Video
Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

Should Madison County’s three local governing bodies ban smoking in indoor public places?

Yes
No
     View Results