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POP MUSIC REVIEW

Rod Stewart does his part at benefit

The singer performs along with many other stars (Deborah Gibson!) to aid ailing band mate Don Kirkpatrick.

November 12, 2007|Natalie Nichols | Special to The Times

Would people pay $100 to see Rod Stewart perform four songs in a nightclub? You bet they would, and several hundred did Friday at the Key Club, where the rock star-turned-pop crooner was the "special guest" attraction in a benefit for guitarist Don Kirkpatrick, a veteran of Stewart's touring band who is undergoing cancer treatment.

Musicians will tell you that bands become like families, with all the love and strife that implies. On Friday it was all about the love, as many involved with Stewart's current group, from crew members to musicians, showed up to do their part. (Several got their own spotlight moments, offering material including Janis Joplin, Iggy Pop and Prince.) Indeed, the evening's array of fledglings and old hands amounted to an extended clan of sorts, covering Kirkpatrick's 20-plus years in the business.

Stewart took the stage with his eight-piece band about midway through the 2 1/2 -hour show, warming quickly to the adulation of an intimate crowd consisting of friends, family and fans. Relaxed and amiable in a black jacket with bold white stripes, he offered nothing from his hugely successful "Great American Songbook" series of recent years, remaining in crooner mode, opening with Holland-Dozier-Holland's classic "This Old Heart of Mine" and finishing with Sam Cooke's "Having a Party."

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday, November 16, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 2 inches; 80 words Type of Material: Correction
Benefit concert: A review in Monday's Calendar of a benefit concert for Don Kirkpatrick, a musician who has played with Rod Stewart, Animotion and other rock and pop performers, listed the names of the Animotion singers who appeared at the show as Cynthia Rhodes and Paul Engemann. They were Marietta Waters and Bill Wahdams. Also, the title of one of the Tubes' hits performed by Fee Waybill at the show is "Talk to Ya Later," not "Talk to You Later."

Some justifiably complain that Stewart's latter-day pop recordings have diluted his reputation as a rock pioneer, but he's still a fine song interpreter with his expressive, raspy-soulful voice. And the plaintive, '70s-vintage rock ballads that highlighted his 15-minute set -- Bonnie Tyler's hit "It's a Heartache" and Stewart's own Top 40 single "The First Cut Is the Deepest" -- found a satisfying middle ground.

The other performers played one or two songs each and represented various stops on Kirkpatrick's individual journey through the vast road map of pop. The guitarist has been with Stewart since 2000, but a handful of youthful up-and-comers on the bill showed he's still had room to work with different artists. Among these Friday were singer-songwriter Jamie Houston and country artist Derek Sholl, as well as the fine vocalist-keyboardist Jon McLaughlin, offering his heartfelt young man's ballad "Beautiful Disaster."

But some of the program's best moments came from acts the ailing guitarist worked with years ago. Kirkpatrick played on the 1985 dance-pop hit "Obsession" by Animotion, whose second set of lead vocalists, Cynthia Rhodes and Paul Engemann, gleefully energized the Key Club crowd with a spirited take on that single, complete with coordinated moves. Later, with a similar sense of impish nostalgia, singer Fee Waybill of the Tubes offered his band's hits "Talk to You Later" and the No. 1 "She's a Beauty," during which seemingly everyone in the room heartily sang along.

Bridging the gap between then and now, Vertical Horizon played its 1999 hit "Everything You Want" with '80s star Richard Marx, followed by bandleader Matt Scannell and Marx dueting on the group's "Best I Ever Had (Grey Sky Morning)." Marx had his own moment later with his 1987 hit "Endless Summer Nights," another crowd-pleaser.

Of the '80s-vintage acts, former teen-pop idol Deborah Gibson cut the flashiest figure in her sparkly mini-shift, looking a bit Nancy Sinatra-esque as she charged through a peppy rendition of Freda Payne's soul-pop hit "Band of Gold."

"Nothing heals like music," the singer-songwriter and actress told the crowd with a twinkle in her eye as she moved behind a keyboard to play her own 1989 chart-topper "Lost in Your Eyes." "And I hear '80s power ballads have extra healing powers. Who am I to argue with science?"

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