November 23, 2014

Concerts #249 & 730 - P.F. Sloan at various venues (2001 & 2014)

This post covers the following two concerts:
  • P.F. Sloan at McCabe's Guitar Shop - May 12, 2001
  • P.F. Sloan at the Coffee Gallery Backstage - November 22, 2014
Both events were quite special, as they gave me the opportunity to be under the same roof with one of my all-time favorite musicians - not only that I absolutely adore his compositions, but I'm a huge fan of his singing as well. 
Last night's proceedings kicked off with writer S.E Feinberg, whose ten-minute-long introduction included the playing of P.F. Sloan's first hit, "Kick That Little Foot, Sally Ann", recorded in 1964 by a singer named Round Robin. No, the original singer did not show up - Mr. Feinberg played the song directly off of his Apple laptop, by holding it up against his microphone. By the way, S.E. Feinberg is P.F. Sloan's co-writer on Phil's newly-released memoirs titled "What's Exactly The Matter With Me".

Taking the stage to a rousing reception, P.F. Sloan started out with "Whatever God Wants" and "This Love", two outstanding songs from "My Beethoven", his brand new album.

P.F. Sloan at the Coffee Gallery Backstage
What followed was a veritable smorgasbord of great songs, interspersed with equally great stories that involved some of P.F. Sloan's contemporaries, such as Bob Dylan, Fred Neil, Donovan, Barry McGuire, the Mamas & the Papas, Lou Adler, the Grass Roots, Jim Webb, Van Morrison and others. 

The Set List 
Whatever God Wants
This Love
What's Exactly The Matter With Me
The Sins Of The Family
Take Me For What I'm Worth
I Can't Help But Wonder, Elizabeth
Eve Of Destruction
Let's Live For Today
Where Were You When I Needed You
Hold On
A Must To Avoid
(Here They Come) From All Over The World
Tell 'em I'm Surfin'
California Dreamin'
Upon A Painted Ocean
New Design
From A Distance
My Baby Left Me
Secret Agent Man (encore)

Somewhat surprisingly, Phil's set included two numbers he did not write, namely "California Dreamin'" and "My Baby Left Me", the song made famous by Elvis Presley. And speaking of "California Dreamin'": Phil shared with us that, even though the song's lyrics were penned by Michelle Phillips, the full writing credits went to hubby John Phillips, with Michelle's consent, in an attempt to market him as the "next John Lennon".

P.F. Sloan delivering "Secret Agent Man"
During the intermission, I had the distinct honor and pleasure of conversing with the master for a couple of minutes. Barry McGuire's name came up and, referring to his strong belief in Christianity, I told Phil that Barry could have written a Christian song by simply changing the name of his best-known hit into "The Destruction Of Eve". Phil saw the humor in this word-play, laughed and then autographed my newly-purchased book.

P.F. Sloan's autograph
Phil went on singing and telling stories for almost two full hours and I loved every minute of it. A well-deserved standing ovation kept Phil on the stage for one final number, "Secret Agent Man", which got everyone standing up yet once again.

Phil's singing voice sounded pretty much like on his more recent studio recordings. Throughout the show, he accompanied himself on an acoustic guitar. The whole event felt more like a gathering of friends taking place in someone's living room. There were only three songs I did not know, and one of them, "New Design", was among the highlights of the evening. There were no musical guests and no opening act.

P.F. Sloan at the Coffee Gallery Backstage
P.F. Sloan at the Coffee Gallery Backstage
S.E. Feinberg at the Coffee Gallery Backstage
P.F. Sloan interview after the concert
P.F. Sloan chatting with a fan at the Coffee Gallery
The Coffee Gallery stage
A few words about P.F. Sloan's appearance at McCabe's in 2001. The place was only half full, which surprised me very much. Phil took the stage and announced that the first half of the show would consist of nothing but new material, with the hit songs scheduled to come later, after the intermission. Initially, I wasn't thrilled with the idea of having to sit through a bunch of new songs, but - as it turned out - my fears were totally unfounded. Phil's new music, while having little in common with his hit songs, still sounded great to these ears.

As promised, the second part of the show brought us many of his well-known hits, as well as an unannounced guest, Creed Bratton of the Grass Roots fame. It was also goose-bumps time: Phil's delivery of his always-relevant gem, "Eve Of Destruction", was one of the most emotional moments I have ever experienced during a live concert. Phil closed his set with "Secret Agent Man", a song that, as he told us, brought him more pride than any other of his songs.

Tom Freund was the opening act.

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