Barry Gibb stayin’ alive with substantive Bee Gees hits 

click to enlarge On his memory-evoking "Mythology" tour, Barry Gibb plays great hits by the Bee Gees, the band he created with late brothers Maurice and Robin. - COURTESY BARRY BRECHEISEN/INVISION/AP
  • On his memory-evoking "Mythology" tour, Barry Gibb plays great hits by the Bee Gees, the band he created with late brothers Maurice and Robin.
It seems improbable, but pop veteran Barry Gibb looked choked up at various moments during his concert Saturday at the Concord Pavilion, the penultimate date of his “Mythology” tour.

Minus brothers Maurice and Robin, with whom he conquered the music world in the 1960s and ’70s as the Bee Gees, Gibb and his band offered a thoughtful, thorough serving of the group’s plentiful hits, with a palpable sense of sincerity.

(He introduced every member of the group, which included his non-Bee-Gee-like son Stephen, and acknowledged his vocalist niece Samantha, who wasn’t in attendance due to illness, several times. He even thanked every member of his crew.)

While boomer and senior fans happily grooved to the huge “Saturday Night Fever” songs, the show’s tone didn’t necessarily reflect the dramatic highs (or lows) the Gibbs saw through decades of the fickle music business.

Disco was represented, with “Jive Talkin’,” “You Should Be Dancing” and “Stayin’ Alive” played at the two-plus hour show’s outset. Toward the end, a glittering ball dropped, and Gibb invited the crowd into what he called “the zone,” playing “Nights on Broadway,” “Night Fever,” “More than a Woman” and a cover of “Grease.”

But the songs, or the groupings, somehow didn’t capture the spirit of the overwhelming craze that disco was – or the change in mood that occurred when the days of polyester suits and the hustle were gone. Perhaps it was because the arrangements weren’t exact copies of the highly produced, harmony-laden sound on Bee Gees’ records, or maybe because the competent backup vocalists didn’t imitate Barry’s siblings.

Yet the sole surviving Gibb’s falsetto is in fine form, and his renditions of the Bee Gees’ numerous, less ubiquitous, predisco hits – “Lonely Days,” “To Love Somebody,” “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart,” “Run to Me,” “New York Mining Disaster 1941,” “I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You” (a song by Robin about a person on death row, Barry said) added up to a powerful whole.

Another particularly moving moment came with “I Started a Joke,” which Barry began, but Robin – on video footage – finished. Barry paid nice tribute to his late youngest brother Andy with a surprisingly satisfying version of one of Andy’s fluffy hits, “Our Love (Don’t Throw It All Away).”

The man certainly can write a lovely melody: “How Deep Is Your Love” sounded particularly pretty in Concord, as did several numbers that weren’t Bee Gees tunes: “Islands in the Stream,” “Guilty” and “Woman in Love,” featuring Beth Cohen on the Dolly Parton and Barbra Streisand parts.

Before an encore of “Words” and “Tragedy,” Gibb sang what he called one of the Bee Gees’ most important songs, "Immortality,” a number recorded by Celine Dion. Its sentiment – we don’t say goodbye – describes the legacy of the brothers whose important contributions to pop music rightly continue to be realized and recognized.

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Leslie Katz

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