Concert review: Peter Cetera gig is balm for the heart

Peter Cetera performed more than 20 songs on a simple stage with a starry backdrop.
Peter Cetera performed more than 20 songs on a simple stage with a starry backdrop.PHOTO: EMOTIONS PRODUCTIONS

Former Chicago band member Peter Cetera dispenses hits that are easy on the ears and memorable stories at concert



Resorts World Theatre/Last Friday

Listen to your heart. What do you hear?

In the case of former Chicago stalwart Peter Cetera, his stethoscoping of the bruises and scars of living filled two hours last Friday - in tune with inspirational songs and confessional stories.

The 72-year-old is, of course, a specialist in pain management, with plenty of practice - some five decades - from the days when he sang and played bass for rock band Chicago until he exited in 1985.

And like a good doctor, the smartly togged-up Cetera dug into plenty of case studies - in songs, both hits and smaller contemplative gems - from Chicago and his solo albums for a more comprehensive probe into life's many heartaches.

The 20-plus songs, starting with Restless Heart at 8.18pm, were easy on the ears, with no sweeteners needed in the form of elaborate stage props - there was just a starry backdrop - or fancy lighting.

While the lyrics of many of the songs were not, say, as streetwise defiant as Bruce Springsteen's or achingly tender as Paul Simon's, they still took on a greater significance in Cetera's soaring tenor, which has matured well with age.

And he was like a mesmeric actor as he prowled the stage, contorting his face and arching his body to wring the emotion out of every song.

The crowd - some women in the front rows were almost rowdy - sang along to familiar favourites such as You Are My Inspiration, If You Leave Me Now, Hard To Say I'm Sorry, Glory Of Love and Next Time I Fall.

But it is no good to wallow in too much introspection, so Cetera wisely injected some booster shots in the form of Stay The Night and Wishing You Were Here.

Then the guitars became noisier and the pace quickened.

Cetera also provided extra value with his stories which, to some, were probably more memorable, given that they were hearing them first- hand, than the songs which they must have heard umpteen times.

And last Friday's takes rarely detoured from the original form, even if the trumpets and saxophones in the Chicago selections were not replicated.

Cetera jokingly chided country star Kenny Rogers: "You should have done this" for turning down You Are My Inspiration when it was offered to him.

Likewise, Glory Of Love suffered a blow initially, when it was rejected for a Rocky movie, before it went on to score a Grammy-nominated knockout punch in Karate Kid Part 2 (1986).

He did not talk about his troubles with his Chicago mates, but has walked the talk of keeping everyone in the band happy if they are to remain harmonious for long spells on the road.

Last Friday, the seven backing musicians had their own stage time - minus their paymaster - to garner their own fair share of Instamatic shots from the 1,500-strong crowd, with backup singer Tania Hancheroff standing out with her breathtaking shaking up of the Beatles' Oh Darling.

And Cetera showed he is a mean instrumentalist himself in the encores, attacking the bass guitar with gusto on Feelin' Stronger Every Day and 25 Or 6 To 4.

Earlier, he had said that it was not a pain to perform his songs repeatedly at concerts because "singing is fun" and that he had nothing else better to do anyway.

"We don't come enough" to Singapore, he said.

The organisers should take the cue to bring him back soon - and to a bigger venue. The "heart doctor", after all, deserves a bigger audience.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 11, 2017, with the headline 'Balm for the heart'. Print Edition | Subscribe