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SATURDAY LETTERS : Davis Gaines: What a Show at Universal!

September 25, 1993

I am totally dismayed by the mean-spirited review of the Davis Gaines concert at the Universal Amphitheatre ("Gaines' Beautiful, Empty Sound," Sept. 20).

True, the starting time was delayed, but there are a myriad of possible reasons. Why blame Gaines? Certainly it was not a perfect concert, at times almost amateur, but always the deficiencies seemed technical.

I found it hard to fault Gaines' somewhat brave choices of some rather obscure, although deserving, songs, and his delivery is phenomenal. Did critic Don Heckman hear all the approving murmurings from the audience?

Gaines has a magnificent voice, and I personally can't wait for his Orange County concerts.


Huntington Beach


We all left Gaines' concert on a high note, agreeing that it was a rare and unforgettable experience. Obviously, Heckman's review came as an ugly jolt. Unbelievable!

It is not true that "Davis Gaines kept his audience waiting. . . ." A female voice over the loudspeaker informed the waiting audience that "due to technical difficulties" the performance was delayed. "Please bear with us . . . and thank you for your patience."

If critics had the ability to listen to audience response, rather than relying on their own arrogant reaction to a performance, they more often might present readers with a valid and trusted review. It is the paying audience of hundreds of people who will give the valid response.

In New York, critics can make or break a show. Fortunately, in Southern California, we make up our own minds.


Pacific Palisades


I was sitting directly behind the audio/visual control board and could hear everything firsthand as to what was going on. There truly were technical difficulties. The delay was not a case of an artistic "snit."

The comment regarding Gaines not revealing any sensitivity to his listeners because he did not sing "Music of the Night" when they first asked for it is ludicrous. Greats such as Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett would never have sung their "My Way" or "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" too early in the concert. They know that if they did, everything would be downhill from there.

An inability "to connect with the inner life of a song," Heckman says? Gaines has so much sensitivity and emotion in his voice that I found many women sighing, oohing, aahing and, yes, crying around me.

I believe Heckman owes Gaines another look.




Gaines not only produces a "beautiful sound" but truly "connects with the inner life of a song." He turned the simple and traditionally lackluster soft shoe of "Tea for Two" into a poignant love song. Fortunately, he failed to produce an evening of musical-theater cliches with songs overly familiar and tiresome. His choices were refreshing and original.


Van Nuys


Regarding Gaines not "telling a musical story": Who cares? We went to listen to him sing without the mask on . He did a magnificent job of it and more than pleased everyone in the audience--except the reviewer. What is "the inner life of a song" anyway? Was Heckman expecting the Lee Strasberg method of interpreting songs?



Anaheim Hills


As for having to wait for a second encore to hear Gaines sing "The Music of the Night," the energy that exploded after he did sing it was overwhelming. I feel that Gaines' performance was magnificent, and I look forward to another concert.




What I saw was thousands of people on their feet, screaming for more from Gaines. As dramatic as he was in "Phantom," this is how charming and personable he was onstage as himself.

When Gaines did begin the strains of the "Phantom" numbers, the orchestra was literally brought to a halt waiting for the screams of delight to die down.

We finally have a young singer who is getting kids (and adults) interested in good music, and I would hate to see The Times hinder this via Heckman's review.




Heckman's statement that Gaines' focus on beautiful sound was a "flaw" is as ridiculous as saying that Baryshnikov's focus on dance spoils the ballet! Gaines' voice and interpretations were exquisite! Heckman must have only listened with his ears, unlike the rest of us who also heard with our hearts!




Not only has Gaines' budding and promising career been callously trashed but the opportunity for Times readers to be well-informed about an up-and-coming talent is lost.

The Times has a duty to present the public with unbiased and accurate information, and I feel that The Times, in the guise of Heckman, has fallen far short. It is a shame that, even if you wanted to, you cannot retract the damage that has been done.


Pacific Palisades


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