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"Mesmerizing!" Dionne Warwick LIVE! at MPAC


By Spotlight Central, Photos by Love Imagery

originally published: 02/26/2024

"Mesmerizing!" Dionne Warwick LIVE! at MPAC

Music lovers take their seats inside Morristown, NJ's MPAC auditorium this Friday, February 16, 2024 evening and ready themselves for a sold-out concert by the legendary recording artist, Dionne Warwick. Warwick is a six-time Grammy Award-winner who has performed on more than 75 charted hits and sold over 100 million records. Born and raised in the Garden State, she received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement award in 2019, was nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2021, and was recognized with a Kennedy Center Honors award in 2023.

The house lights dim, and pianist Todd Hunter, bassist Danny Morales, drummer Jeffrey Lewis, and percussionist Renato Braz take their places behind their respective instruments. The audience hears Dionne Warwick’s voice from offstage saying, “It’s me!” prior to introducing tonight’s opening act, her granddaughter, singer Cheyenne Elliott.

Appearing on stage in a simple short black dress, Elliott gets the crowd’s attention with her soulful and jazzy rendition of Bobby Caldwell’s “What You Won’t Do for Love.”

"Mesmerizing!" Dionne Warwick LIVE! at MPAC

Deftly accompanied by the band, her warm, soft voice brims with feeling as she croons, “I’ve got a thing for you/And I can’t let go” on this groove-laced R&B arrangement.

Following up with Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams,” concertgoers happily sing along with Elliott on the song’s well-known “Thunder only happens with its raining/Players only love you when they’re playing” chorus.



 
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Moving on to a soulful version of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together,” Elliott’s jazzy and understated vocal style impresses the crowd. To cap off her set, Elliott gets concertgoers clapping and singing along on a refined arrangement of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” which includes an extended ending which has audience members reacting with avid hoots, hollers, and cheers.

After thanking the crowd, music lovers rise as Cheyenne’s grandmother, Dionne Warwick, 83, takes the stage looking dazzling in a blue sequined pantsuit ensemble.

"Mesmerizing!" Dionne Warwick LIVE! at MPAC

“Well, good evening,” says Warwick, “Welcome to your concert,” acknowledging, “I only live four miles away from here — it’s nice to be home!” After adding, “Were going to do some songs most of you might remember,” Warwick launches into her 1964 classic, “Walk on By.” Audience members bop their heads in time to the music as Warwick sings with ease and grace, “If you see me walking down the street/And I start to cry each time we meet,” before they join her in singing the tune’s nostalgic “Walk on by/Walk on by” chorus.

"Mesmerizing!" Dionne Warwick LIVE! at MPAC

Moving on to a trio of Burt Bacharach and Hal David-penned hits, audience members whistle and cheer as Warwick performs “Anyone Who Had a Heart,” “You’ll Never Get to Heaven If You Break My Heart,” and “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again,” where the master vocalist sings directly to the audience as if she’s talking to an old friend, the audience feeling the magic of her one-of-a-kind vocal stylings.

Crisp piano, bass, drums, and percussion accompany Warwick on elegant renditions of “Message to Michael” and “This Girl’s in Love with You,” where audience members nostalgically sing along on the song’s dynamic “I need your love/I want your love” refrain.

"Mesmerizing!" Dionne Warwick LIVE! at MPAC

The crowd cheers when they recognize Warwick’s 1967 hit, “Alfie.” Warwick sparkles center stage as she serenades the audience, crooning, “What’s it all about, Alfie?” on this poignant arrangement.

"Mesmerizing!" Dionne Warwick LIVE! at MPAC

At the conclusion, the audience responds with animated applause and cheers.



 
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After talking about her 2006 duet with Celia Cruz, Warwick presents an upbeat salsa interpretation of “Do You Know the Way to San José.”

"Mesmerizing!" Dionne Warwick LIVE! at MPAC

Following the tune’s well-known “Do you know the way to San José/I’ve been away so long/I may go wrong and lose my way” verse, Warwick introduces a Renato Braz percussion solo, a Todd Hunter jazz piano solo, a Jeffrey Lewis drum solo, and a funky Danny DeMorales bass solo before vocally joining in at the end to enthusiastic applause.

The musicians start to play the next number, but Warwick stops them to publicly reveal, “Last night after our show in Connecticut my dearest school friend called me and said, ‘You didn’t sing my favorite song!’ so today at soundcheck, I convinced the band we’d have to do it tonight.” The band restarts and the crowd cheers when they recognize the intro to Warwick’s 1979 smash, “I’ll Never Love This Way Again.”

"Mesmerizing!" Dionne Warwick LIVE! at MPAC

Singing powerfully with style and feeling, Warwick cries, “I know I’ll never love this way again/ So I keep holdin’ on, before the good is gone,” prior to impressively holding out the song’s final note to an enthusiastic standing ovation.

“You have no idea…” sighs Warwick, before noting, “There’s so much chaos in the world these days. There has to be a solution,” and suggesting, “The solution — besides conversation — is music. Music is a healer.” Here, Warwick performs her 1998 inspirational ballad, “If I Want To,” where she sings with passion, “I listen hard/Until I hear the music inside of me/I can sing of a better world if I want to/And I can dream of a better world if I want to.”

The crowd bursts into applause, and Warwick follows up with USA for Africa’s 1985 charity single, “We Are the World.”

"Mesmerizing!" Dionne Warwick LIVE! at MPAC

Concertgoers sway back and forth as they sing along on the well-known “We are the world/We are the children” refrain prior to concluding with a standing ovation.

Explaining, “This next song is very dear to my heart,” Warwick invites granddaughter Cheyenne Elliott back to the stage to join her on an upbeat interpretation of her 1967 hit, “I Say A Little Prayer.” Audience members enjoy the intergenerational pair’s soulful vocal performance on this Latin-influenced arrangement.

In her smooth, sweet voice, Elliott handles the first verse of the Bacharach/David hit, “What the World Needs Now,” and is followed by her grandmother vocalizing in her patented world class style on the second verse. After insuring the audience correctly joins in on the “What the world needs now is love sweet love” refrain, Dionne improvises on the ending to a standing ovation.

To conclude tonight’s show, Warwick and Elliott perform Dionne and Friends’ 1985 hit, “That’s What Friends are For,” where the audience joyfully joins in singing along on the song’s beloved “Keep smiling, keep shining/Knowing you can always count on me, for sure” refrain. After Cheyenne takes a bow, Warwick bows, and the crowd rewards the pair with a well-deserved final standing ovation.



 
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As concertgoers make their way out of the MPAC auditorium, several share their thoughts on tonight’s performance. Exclaims Monica from Media, PA, “I loved this show — Dionne Warwick is such a class act! She’s a quintessential singer and performer who displays such poise and longevity, not to mention a tremendous catalog of songs — and it was a really nice surprise to see her perform with her granddaughter tonight.”

Declares Vinnie from Flanders, “Dionne Warwick was fantastic — I was blown away! I’m younger than many of the people in the crowd tonight. I grew up listening to my mom playing Dionne’s music and became a fan. She’s so classy, she tells amazing stories, and she put on a beautiful performance tonight — plus, her granddaughter, Cheyenne, is fantastic, too!”

"Mesmerizing!" Dionne Warwick LIVE! at MPAC

Christine from Bayville asserts, “Dionne Warwick is an icon! She has an amazing personality and, at 83, is such a breath of fresh air!” Sue from Flanders agrees, contending, “The talent on the stage tonight was outrageous! I loved seeing both Dionne and her granddaughter sing together.” Kim from Morristown agrees, adding, “To me, Dionne’s granddaughter sounds so much like Dionne when she was younger. It was nice how the two of them performed together and neither one overshadowed the other — they supported one another.”

Dee from Morristown asserts, “I loved this show! I saw Dionne Warwick years ago and it was amazing to see her again,” revealing, “This is my 15th show at MPAC this season. We are very blessed to have this theater right here in our community — for so many of us, it’s the heart of our town.” Lastly, Elissa from Morristown contends, “This show was fantastic — it took all of the stress I was experiencing from the week and made it go away,” prior to concluding, “I was so drawn in by Dionne Warwick — she was mesmerizing!”

"Mesmerizing!" Dionne Warwick LIVE! at MPAC

To learn more about Dionne Warwick, please go to officialdionnewarwick.com. For info on future concerts at MPAC — including Diana Krall on March 6, Spyro Gyra and Jeff Lorber Fusion on March 7, Patti LuPone on March 8, and Peter Frampton on March 13 — please click on mayoarts.org.

Photos by Love Imagery

Spotlight Central. Your source for Jersey entertainment news and reviews

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