Definitely, worth the wait!
I finally had a chance to check out one of my early favorites; about 30 years after I should have. John Waite made a stop in Orlando on Sunday evening for a show at Plaza Theater Live. Waite first hit my radar as lead singer of The Baby’s late in the Seventies, then had some hits of his own in the 80’s and with Bad English in the 90’s, but for some reason, I never saw him perform live.
He got the show off to a rousing start with a version of The Baby’s “Back On My Feet Again,” in front of an appreciative yet small crowd at this fantastic venue. His distinctive voice is still perfect, and his three piece band sounded sharp. Truthfully, I went to the show hoping he’d play every song off of Anthology (The Baby’s 1981 Greatest Hits album), throw in a couple of other hits and call it a night, but John has grown up a bit over the years, and I think it is safe to say he’s moved on since the band broke, as he noted “It’s hard to believe that The Baby’s BROKE UP over 30 years ago.”
Over the remainder of the night, Waite only played two other Baby’s tunes, but filled the 90+ minute set with a diverse group of songs that spanned his last three decades. “If You Ever Get Lonely” from his newly released “Rough and Tumble” album was great and would be a huge hit if he were an 18 year-old American Idol finalist, instead of a classic rocker in his 4th decade of touring. Other highlights included, Bad English’s “When I see You Smile, his own hits “Missing You” and his closer “Change.” More than a few of his songs were clearly influenced by his Nashville days, and just added to his appealing musical diversity.
Waite frequently interacted with the crowd, shared some cool anecdotes, and genuinely seemed to be having a fun time. The highlight for me was his unexpected cover of Dylan’s (and Jimi’s) “All Along the Watchtower.” He tore it up, with a nice assist from his guitarist – some young dude from Philly, who literally joined the band a few weeks earlier.
I have to confess that I missed the line-up of band members during a trip to the rest room Did I mention that the Plaza has Longboard on tap?
The opening act was Jackie Bristow. a beautiful Kiwi with an equally beautiful voice. She play unaccompanied acoustic guitar and was very intriguing. Her voice was unique. Mix Australian with a hint of Nashville and you’ll have an idea. Lots of promise, for sure.
All told, it was a really good show from start to finish, highlighting Waite’s amazing voice and deep diverse music catalog. Not a weak song in the bunch. I’m thinking that I won’t wait 30+ years to catch him again.