Peter Asher and Company Take A Sellout Strand Theatre Crowd to Heaven and Back
HUDSON FALLS — It was the same kind of excitement I felt the first day I rode my sleek new Columbia Fire Arrow bike around the block. No old balloon tires or heavy clunky frame anymore. No, this was a sleek, aerodynamic rocket in the socket. I was no longer pedaling uphill. I was flying without ever leaving the ground.
That’s how I felt at the Peter Asher and Company show at the Strand Theatre Sunday night, July 25th. Some might call it old folks boogie, but this was no average oldies show. Sometimes with as many as nine musicians on stage, Peter Asher, veteran producer, songwriter and founder of the British Invasion group Peter and Gordon, became the ringmaster of a two-and-a-half-hour rock and roll greatest show on earth. Many of the songs like Buddy Holly’s B side “Alright” were at least half a century old, but they were performed by a cadre of artists, at least half of whom were there on the original recordings. And it was like they were creating those chestnuts for the first time before our eyes.
For an old guy like me who had sequestered for a year and a half, this explosion of now legendary rock and roll was transformative. I was back on my Fire Arrow. And you know what they say about riding on a bike. No matter how long it’s been since you first rode it around the block, getting back on that bike is like you never left.
I looked at my friend George during Albert Lee’s guitar pyrotechnics on The Everly Brothers’ “Bye Bye Love.” We nodded at each other with knowing shit eating grins on our faces. We were experiencing liftoff, and we would be in orbit the rest of the night. His third time on the Strand stage, Albert played with the Everly Brothers back in the day. Talk about authentic! He may be British, but Albert sang Gram Parsons’ “Wheels” like a Tennessee native bringing to mind Lefty Frizell doing a smooth chaser to “Long Black Veil,” and before covering a Ray Charles number I didn’t recognize, he did a sumptuous version of Hoyt Axton’s “Evangeline.”
Peter Asher introduced Kate Taylor as “an excitable girl.” He produced her first album Sister Kate 50 years ago and has reprised that effort producing her just released Why Wait. The sister of James Taylor, whom Asher also produced and managed, she lived up to Peter’s introduction with several songs from her new album including the Beatles’ “Good Day Sunshine” and the CD’s title cut, an original about experiencing heaven on earth. Why wait, indeed? Like her brother Livingston, she made everyone in that audience feel like she was performing just for them, capturing an-in-the moment feeling that made the recordings come alive. She may be the youngest 71-year-old I’ve seen on stage.
Peter Asher, his third time at the Strand, characterized the theater as “a place I love to play.” Like a circus master, he introduced every song with a back story that made numbers like “Crying in The Rain” “Nobody I Know,” “Glory of Love” and “I Fall to Pieces” come alive and become more than covers of dusty 45s.
Backed by legendary bass player Leland Sklar and featuring guitarists Steve Holley and Bill Cinque, vocalist Cara Lee, and keyboardist Jeff Alan Ross, Peter was as much a ringmaster as he is the former half of the duo Peter and Gordon. And acting as the excellent producer he is, he got out of the way to let Albert and Kat have their time in the sun.
The show ended with “World Without Love” as Peter directed the audience who carried the last verse as if they were background singers at a Phil Spector wall of sound studio recording.