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At 55, Eric Burdon Still Evokes '60s Spirit

The singer leads his band through some of his classics and some surprises in Glendale street concert.


Fifty-five-year old rock singer Eric Burdon proved Saturday that he has lost none of his vocal prowess over the years. His performance at the Glendale Rocks street concert was a paean to the spirit of an age gone by--the 1960s.

The finale of Glendale's 1996 summer street concert series last weekend was its most successful, both artistically and in terms of crowd response and size. I arrived at the concert late, and Burdon was already on stage, singing the classic "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood." He had been preceded on stage by the Spencer Davis Group.

Burdon's band sounded a little stiff. They finished that song but just as they started playing the opening riff to the tune "Monterey," Burdon stopped the band and complained to the sound people that he couldn't hear anything through his stage monitor speakers. Burdon walked off stage while the tech people worked on the problem. The concert was stalled for about 15 minutes.

The audience ranged from baby boomers in their 50s to children of varying ages. I overheard a boy about 12 asking his mother, "Who are the Animals?" His mother replied, "They were a band that played 30 years ago."

The master of ceremonies for the evening was another '60s survivor, Dewey Martin. Along with Neil Young, Steven Stills, Richie Furay and Bruce Palmer, Martin was an original member of the 1960s group the Buffalo Springfield. Martin says he's still regularly approached about a possible Buffalo Springfield reunion.

Backstage, Burdon was raring to go. Finally, with monitors functioning properly, he came back.

Surprisingly, Burdon's repertoire for the evening included songs from the 1960s that aren't ordinarily associated with him or the Animals. His group reopened with a spirited version of Ike and Tina Turner's "River Deep, Mountain High." They followed it with a rousing rendition of the Doors' "Roadhouse Blues," then a shortened take of the reggae classic "Get Up, Stand Up."

By this time, all stiffness was gone. They played a few songs from Burdon's California period--"San Franciscan Nights," "When I Was Young," and "Sky Pilot"--the material he claims to be most proud of today. He finished up the night with the song that made him famous, "House of the Rising Sun."

Burdon was full of energy, moving about the stage like a kid, exhorting the audience to sing along. The audience responded, singing and moving to the music. Between songs, Burdon chatted with the audience, dissing MTV and calling for world peace by 2000.

It almost seemed like old times.


Club Scene

* Two groups that prominently feature vocal harmonies will be at Coffee Junction this weekend: the Sun Lions on Friday and Michael Kline and the Gypsys on Saturday. Both groups share a similar sound, that of the ultimate California band, the Eagles. But while Kline and company sound like the early Eagles of the "Desperado" era, the Sun Lions are reminiscent of the Eagles of the "Hotel California" period.

* Coffee Junction, 19221 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana, Call (818) 342-3405.

* Several blues guys with "Guitar" as part of their name will be playing in the Valley this weekend. Guitar Shorty holds forth at B.B. King's on Friday and Saturday, and Guitar Jack is scheduled for Friday at the Classroom in Northridge. Louisiana Guitar Red will appear with Gashouse Dave at Cozy's in Sherman Oaks on Friday.

* B.B. King's Blues Club at Universal CityWalk. Call (818) 622-5464.

* The Classroom, 8333 Tampa Ave., Northridge. Call (818) 885-0250.

* Cozy's Bar & Grill, 14058 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, Call (818) 986-6000.

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