Return to Forever Plays the Paramount, Denver, June 3
Between songs, the band members took turns talking to the audience. Corea said he recognized many members of the audience from thirty years ago, adding "Your hair is different, though." White bemoaned the current state of the music business, dominated as it is by pop schlock (but what's new about that?). He noted, "In an era of boy bands, this is a man band." Each musician gushed about how much fun it was to get back together and play with their old buds. That was apparent in their playing as well.
An acoustic guitar and an acoustic bass sat on stage untouched during the first set. They got a workout in the second set, however. It started with DiMeola picking up the Ovation and playing a solo that Corea described as the "DiMeola Fantasy." Indeed it sounded much like "Fantasia Suite for Two Guitars" from his 1978 solo album Casino (except, of course, there was only one guitar). Next, the band went into "No Mystery," which was the highlight of the show to that pointuntil the next song. The tune "Romantic Warrior" has been one of my favorites with its many changes and its understated but speedy recurring theme. This version lasted 31 minutes and included a bass and drum solo. Clarke's turn on acoustic bass was more of an electric style solo with lots of string slaps and even some Pete Townsend windmilling arm work.
The band re-electrified for the remainder of show. The next tune was the other extended piece from the Romantic Warrior album: "Duel of Jester and the Tyrant." For the encore, Corea came out with a strap-on keyboard so he could roam the stage and get up close with DiMeola and Clarke to trade some licks.
The audience was in fusion heaven. The whole theater was on its feet continually, especially after every tune during the second set. A twenty-five-year drought can lead to considerable pent-up enthusiasm.
Program: First Set: "Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy," "Vulcan Worlds," "Sorceress," "Song to the Pharoah Kings." Second Set: "DiMeola Fantasy" (guitar solo), "No Mystery," "Romantic Warrior," "Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant." Encore: "Beyond the Seventh Galaxy," "Dayride," "Medieval Overture."
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