I have a true story to tell you about a concert.
In the early 1980’s just as Joe Cocker was having his third (or so) “comeback” with the number one song “Up Where We Belong,” I went to see him perform at this small rock club off a marina adjacent to Lake Ontario in NYS. A local band opened for him and they were just bad and forgettable, but Cocker was fantastic, still able to put over songs like he used to (and his did not sing “Up Where We Belong” which was fine by me). I stood way up front near the stage. Because this was my first rock concert (repressed youth that I was), my ears weren’t used to the roar of the enormous crowd that gathered there. At the moment when I put my fingers in my ears to keep them from any further damage (they rang for the whole day afterward), Cocker spotted me and gave me a wide-eyed sneer so great it should have been patented.
Well, anyway, this video clip from the concert film Mad Dogs and Englishmen is of the remake of the standard song “Cry Me a River,” which became a Top Ten hit for Joe. The concert tour had the superbly talented pianist/songwriter/producer/arranger Leon Russell (wearing the top hat) organizing a rag-tag group of 40 musicians, singers (Rita Coolidge being one of them), groupies and you-name-it in what had to be a pretty rough task. Cocker admitted this tour exhausted him. That’s understandable, since he gives his all in the performances. His physical tics and gyrations are part blues-soul, part psychadelic rock freakout and part exorcism, but all great.