It’s a packed house here at Englewood, NJ’s BergenPAC this June 19, 2018 for the latest edition of the long-running Happy Together concert tour!
As we wait in the lobby for the show to begin, we chat with several concertgoers, all here to enjoy a live performance by six of the top pop groups of the 1960s including The Cowsills, Paul Revere and the Raiders’ Mark Lindsay, The Association, Gary Puckett, Three Dog Night’s Chuck Negron, and The Turtles.
States Richard, a musician from Fair Lawn — who came tonight wearing his bass clef T-shirt — “This is the music we grew up with and we love it!”
Richard’s wife, Sandra, agrees acknowledging, “I constantly listen to ’60s music played by Cousin Brucie on Sirius XM radio and I’m really excited about tonight’s show,” before adding, “This will be my first time seeing groups like The Cowsills and The Turtles.”
Mary from Staten Island is here for a specific reason stating, “I’ve seen all of the groups performing here tonight many times, but I’m here to support The Archies’ Ron Dante — who is also from Staten Island. Ron — who is a super nice guy — will be filling in for Howard Kaylan of The Turtles, who isn’t on this year’s tour because he’s recuperating from some health issues.”
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Mary’s friend, Shelley from Old Greenwich, CT, however, is here because, as she explains, “I’m 72 years old, and I grew up with all of these groups,” noting, “Ron Dante and The Cowsills are the nicest people I’ve ever met, and Mark Lindsay is very nice also,” before adding, “Oh, and excuse me, but did I forget to mention my other love, Chuck Negron? He has personality!”
When the lobby lights blink, we make our way into the beautiful BergenPAC auditorium to hear the sound of PA announcer Shadow Stevens counting down the seconds for the show to begin.
As tye-died colors flash on the screen behind them, The Cowsills take the stage to cheers and applause from the packed house at BergenPAC.
Telling the excited crowd, “This is for all the flower girls out there,” the group — consisting of siblings Susan, Paul and Bob Cowsill — performs an energetic rendition of their catchy ’67 hit, “The Rain, The Park, and Other Things” (aka “The Flower Girl”), as groovy yellow kaleidoscopic shapes dance on the screen behind them.
Following avid applause, the group performs their 1967 Top 40 hit, “We Can Fly.” The audience taps and claps along to the song’s snappy melody and the siblings’ tight vocal harmonies.
Next, Bob Cowsill reveals, “Susan has always loved this feel-good song which is perfect for the beginning of summer.” Here, The Cowsills perform a bouncy version of their 1967 Top Ten Billboard smash, “Indian Lake.”
As members of the family band that provided the inspiration for TV’s The Partridge Family, the siblings go on to perform a TV theme they recorded back in 1969 — the theme song from Love, American Style.
As images of tresses of every color, length, and style of hair one can imagine flash on the screen, the group ends their nostalgic set with a high-energy rendition of their 1969 hit, “Hair.”
For their fun, entertaining, and highly musical performance, the crowd leaps to its’ feet for this fantastic family band!
Next up, Mark Lindsay of Paul Revere and the Raiders takes the stage announcing, “We’re gonna rock and roll tonight!” to which the crowd responds with exuberant cheers and applause.
Inviting the audience to clap along, Lindsay opens his portion of the show with a medley of the Raiders’ bluesy and rockin’ “Steppin’ Out” and the rhythmic “Just Like Me” as images of go-go dancers in knee-high boots, turtlenecks, and flip hairdos skip across the screen enveloped by psychedelic swirls.
The driving beat of 1966’s “Hungry” gets audience members nodding their heads and tapping their toes to the rhythm. Many join Lindsay on the catchy chorus singing, “I’m hungry for those good things, baby/Hungry through and through.”
After thanking the crowd, Lindsay talks about how in the Raiders, “I got to sing lead on everything,” exclaiming, “It was so cool!” before moving on to his 1969 solo Top Ten hit, “Arizona.”
Figuratively taking off his “rainbow shades,” he shows the audience just how dynamic and energetic a performer he is with his rich, resonant voice.
He follows that up with a smokin’ version of the Raiders’ 1966 Top Five smash, “Good Thing,” the band rockin’ as the audience sings along on the harmonious “Good, good, good, good thing” lyric.
Telling the audience that his next number was Columbia Records’ biggest-selling single for almost 30 years until Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” took that honor, Lindsay says to “Listen to the song, not the singer.” Here, he launches into his rendition of “Indian Reservation (The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian)” — a tune that, with the Raiders, went on to become a certified platinum #1 single. With the audience clapping along and singing, the number also features Happy Together band leader and guitarist Godfrey Townsend rocking out on a steamin’ guitar solo.
After donning his Paul Revere jacket, Lindsay performs the Raiders’ 1966 Top 5 hit written by songwriting couple Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil — “Kicks.”
Men and women dance in their seats and in the aisles as Lindsay high-kicks his legs practically up to his shoulders along with each bass drum kick.
Closing by stating, “Remember these three things: 1) This is the Happy Together Tour, 2) My name is Mark Lindsay, and 3) Rock ‘n roll keeps you young!” Lindsay takes a bow to tumultuous applause!
Following Lindsay is The Association — Jim Yester, Del Ramos, and Jules Alexander — who kick off their portion of the show with their monster hit, “Windy.”
The crowd claps along to the beat of the unmistakable 1966 chart-topper, cheering and whistling with approval at the end.
Jim Yester greets the crowd stating, “We are The Association, established 1965.” Introducing bassist Del Ramos, Ramos dedicates the group’s next song to “all the troops, veterans, and first responders” in the crowd — not to mention his “98-year-old mother.” Singing lead on one of the most popular songs of the past 100 years, the audience knows all the words and sings along to 1967’s “Never My Love.”
Yester then introduces Jules Alexander, the arranger of the group’s 1966 #1 hit, “Cherish.” As the band performs this classic number, audience members sway to the music, enjoying every note.
Yester reveals that their final song tonight “was not played on the radio when it first came out” because of its controversial subject matter, joking, “If you don’t know what it is, you didn’t really experience the 1960s.” At this point, the group launches into a lively version of “Along Comes Mary,” after which audience members stand and cheer for a job well done.
Following a short intermission, Gary Puckett, the original lead singer of Gary Puckett and The Union Gap — a group which, in 1967, produced more consecutive gold records than the Beatles — takes the stage.
Dedicating his first song to all who serve in the military, Puckett opens with a powerful version of his 1968 #2 hit, “Lady Willpower.”
After taking a good look around the packed house, Puckett asks everyone in the crowd to “Give the band a round of applause” before moving on to a tune where Puckett croons, “Why am I losing sleep over you? Re-living precious moments we knew?” By the time he reaches the irresistible chorus, the audience cheerfully joins him in singing his 1968 Top Ten hit, “Over You.”
When the song’s over, Gary compliments the crowd on their vocals stating, “It sounds so good when you sing it!”
His voice sounding strong, Puckett performs the rock ballad, “Don’t Give In to Him,” before revealing about the Happy Together Tour, “I’m a fan like you are — you made these songs hits and we thank you for that.”
Here, he goes on to entertain the excited audience with a compelling version of his 1969 Top Ten smash, “This Girl Is a Woman Now,” his famous vibrato ringing out throughout the BergenPAC auditorium.
“What a crowd!,” declares Gary, reacting to the audience’s hearty applause.
Puckett goes on to talk about his first record, “Woman, Woman,” which came out in 1967, stating, “At the time, it cost 39 cents for a record…and you bought one and a half million of them.”
Singing the powerful melody of “Woman, woman/Have you got cheating on your mind,” the audience is moved by Puckett’s performance and they demonstrate their feelings by standing and cheering. From his reaction, Puckett appears to be genuinely touched by the response.
Following continuous cheers, Gary exclaims, “My four-and-a-half year-old grandson loves to sing this song,” before inviting everyone in the BergenPAC audience to sing along with him on his 1968 #2 record, “Young Girl.”
After joining him — several times, in fact — on the the well-known chorus, “Young girl, get out of my mind/My love for you is way out of line/Better run girl/You’re much too young girl,” the entire crowd is on its feet as Puckett concludes his portion of tonight’s show with a well-deserved bow!
Chuck Negron from Three Dog Night is up next and he opens his set with the popular trio’s first million seller — 1969’s “Celebrate.”
As his powerful voice rings out through the venue, many in the packed crowd “dance to the music,” their arms in the air clapping to the solid bass and drum beat.
Addressing the house stating, “I grew up in the Bronx,” Negron calls the audience a “good-lookin’ crowd,” saying, “You can tell we’re back East!”
With a big smile on his face, he performs Three Dog Night’s 1970 #1 smash written by Randy Newman, “Mama Told Me (Not to Come),” his unique form of blue-eyed soul filling the audience.
He follows that with a poignant rendition of Three Dog Night’s 1969 Top 5 hit, “Easy to be Hard,” another number which the audience simple adores.
Moving on to the Laura Nyro-penned 1969 hit, “Eli’s Comin,’” Negron, 76, gives a dynamic performance which shows his impressive range and power, bringing the packed house to its feet.
Next, he performs a robust rendition of Three Dog Night’s first million seller, “One,” as shapes and colors swirl on the screen behind him.
After taking a selfie with the entire audience, Negron concludes his portion of the evening’s program by singing a Three Dog Night song on which he recorded the original lead vocal — 1971’s Song of the Year, “Joy to the World.”
Sounding fantastic, Negron and the HTT band leave the entire audience singing, swaying, dancing, and wearing grins from ear to ear as they cheer this unforgettable performance!
For the final act of the night, The Turtles’ — Mark Volman and Ron Dante — take the stage and open with a rockin’ version of the group’s 1967 #3 hit, “She’d Rather Be With Me.”
After excited applause, the duo follows that up with their 1966 album cut, “You Baby,” before moving on to a recreation of their 1965 version of Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me Babe.”
Ron Dante shows off his vocal prowess on The Turtles’ 1966 Top Ten tune,“You Showed Me,” which features an audience sing along.
Mark Volman takes a moment to explain that because his long-term partner in The Turtles — Howard Kaylan — has had some recent “challenging issues” with respect to his health, he was advised to take a break from this year’s 47-city Happy Together Tour. That said, he introduces his current musical partner, Ron Dante, who dazzles the audience with a performance of his own #1 hit with The Archies’ “Sugar Sugar.”
The crowd cheers, after which Volman introduces the members of the talented Happy Together Band — Barry Waller on bass, Chris Camilleri on drums, and Manny Focarazzo on keyboards — in addition to guitarist and musical director Godfrey Townsend.
After a brief version of the Frank Zappa instrumental, “Peaches en Regalia,” Volman and Co. segue into a spirited rendition of The Turtles’ 1968 Top Ten smash, “Elenore,” as psychedelic colors morph and swirl on the screen.
Inviting the audience to join in on the “song everyone’s been waiting to hear,” the entire crowd stands, cheerfully singing and moving to the groove of The Turtles’ 1967 chart-topper, “Happy Together,” creating a feeling of community among the members of this BergenPAC crowd.
“Did you have a good time tonight?” asks Volman.
Following a resounding “YES!” the individual artists, one at a time, return to the stage so they can each do a snippet of one of their biggest hits, after which they all join in on a reprise of “Happy Together.”
As the audience happily files out of the auditorium and back into the BergenPAC lobby, we chat with several concertgoers about tonight’s performance.
Says Suzanne from Woodbridge, “The Happy Together Tour was excellent! It brought back so many memories,” before adding, “I loved seeing The Cowsills and hearing all of their hits.”
Harry from Woodbridge exclaims, “My favorite was hearing ‘Cherish’ by The Association — those guys still sound great.”
Allan from New City, NY, agrees adding, “ I loved The Association’s set. I go to a lot of shows and I needed something to cheer me up, so I came tonight,” before exclaiming, “This show is me — I grew up with this music!”
Eugene from Elmwood Park concurs stating, “I like all of the music of the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s— I hope it never dies.”
Donna from Middlesex remarks, “This year’s edition of the Happy Together Tour was even better than last year’s. Chuck Negron is still my favorite, but Ron Dante did an excellent job, too — he’s very animated,” before adding, “Altogether, I’m going to see the Happy Together show seven times this season — it’s phenomenal!
Lastly, we chat with Joanna from Hasbrook Heights who is here tonight with her daughter, Angelina, 11. The pair has been attending Happy Together shows for five years, since Angelina was six.
Exclaims Joanna, “We loved this show — it was even better than last year,” before concluding, “We’ll keep coming back!”
To learn more about The Happy Together Tour 2018, please go theturtles.com/tour. For further information on future concerts at BergenPAC — including Dion on July 15; Hippiefest 2018 featuring Vanilla Fudge, Rick Derringer, Mitch Ryder and the Detriot Wheels, and Badfinger starring Joey Molland on July 15; and Three Dog Night on October 14 — please go to bergenpac.orgPhotos by Love Imagery
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