Last Night: Al Jarreau and George Benson at Hard Rock Live

Photo by Jeffrey Delannoy

Al Jarreau and George Benson

Hard Rock Live

October 17, 2007

View the concert slidehow.

A good friend of mine recently said to me, “I know you like photographing old people.” Well, in response to that, I have to say that when I have the chance to catch a double whammy of multiple Grammy award winners creating magic together, after covering countless Punk, Rock, Emocore, and Rap groups, and when those aforementioned legends have combined for over 80 albums over the course of three decades, it´s pretty much a no-brainer.

Last night marked a unique evening at the Hard Rock in Hollwood when they brought together two living Jazz Pop and R&B legends named Al Jarreau and George Benson in support of their 2006 album entitled “Givin it Up” which featured guest musicians Paul McCartney, Stanley Clarke, Jill Scott, and Herbie Hancock.

Reflecting the quality of the album, Jarreau and Benson tore up the stage, with the band opening the show by burning through a medley of hits by both artists, which because of the abundance, actually became a little confusing when trying to sort out who did what, and when. The band jammed for a good seven minutes, eventually, leading to Benson and Jarreau joining one another on stage to the applause of an audience intent on luxuriating on their journey to find love, soul, and God.

After giving the audience a taste of what to expect. Jarreau began his set singing Elton John´s “Your Song” warming the crowd up with a light number before beginning his eulogy consisting of his thoughts on politics, combining scat with phrases like “No more war”, “We're in this love together,” and eventually culminating in a rendition of “Touch the Face of God” which came closest to bringing the audience to it's feet. Afterwards the 67 year old, Jarreau thanked “The Holy Father” to more whoops and yells than I can ever remember hearing, leading into a scat duet with Benson of a Miles Davis tune, with Jarreau singing the tenor while Benson bellowed out the scat baritone.

Once, the crowd heard the crystal clear voice of Benson harmonizing with Jarreau to Seals and Croft's “Summer Breeze” the audience was convinced. Benson's perfect pitch and guitar virtuoso licks are simply something one does not see often in this decade. Benson simply blows away Rock guitarists and makes them look stupid, and he certainly doesn't need a pair of tight pants to sing falsetto, and no help from intonation effects boards either. The evening certainly did not disappoint as Benson blew through his set, eventually rejoined by Jarreau, and put a smile on everyone´s face. People were holding hands and kissing each other and feeling good – exactly the atmosphere such an evening is supposed to create – and I, unlike the Emo shows in dingy rat holes, have decided to never go to the Hard Rock again without a date. -- Jeffrey Delannoy