NEWS BLOG (WSAU) Al Jarreau, the pop-jazz singer from Milwaukee, has been in ill-health. His European tour was interrupted last month when he was hospitalized for two weeks in France. He was released two days ago and will be back in concert in Germany and Austria next week.
I saw Al Jarreau in concert as a teenager in New York City.
Pier 54 was an outdoor concert venue in Manhattan. It was an old pier on the Hudson River that used to be the embarkation point for ocean liners. Long since abandoned, a stage and bleachers were set up there for summer outdoor concerts.
My aunt was a big live music fan, and thought nothing of taking her 14-year-old nephew to a show during my summer vacation. We got our tickets at the last minute. Our partial-view seats cost $10. We were up very close to the stage, but far to the left. The tower of speakers blocked most of our view.
Al Jarreau opened his set with his soul love song “After All”, a great slow jam from the 1980s. Then he sang his radio hit “We’re In This Love Together”. And then it started to rain. There was a clap of thunder, a flash of lightning, followed by a very heavy downpour. The show came to a grinding halt after two songs. Our seats, as bad as they were for seeing the concert, were covered by the overhang from the stage. We stayed there to keep from getting soaked, deciding if we should make a run for it to the subway or to try finding a taxi. The rest of the thousand or-so concert-goers cleared out quickly amid the storm.
A half-hour later it was still raining, but the lightning stopped. The house lights came up, and Al Jarreau came back out. He sang for another 90 minutes for me, my aunt, and the 50 or-so people who were still there. For the last half hour, he took requests from the stage.
I’ve always liked Jarreau’s unique voice, and his blending of jazz and pop music. And he’s a trouper. I’m glad, at age 70, he’ll be back on tour soon.
Operations Manager, Midwest Communications-Wausau