Concert Review: Robin Gibb, Vector Arena

By Scott Kara


My mum reckons Maurice Gibb was always the hottest Bee Gee.

That Barry, though, she adds while we're in the car on the way to Vector Arena, was the "toothy, look-at-me one". And Robin was the one with the distinct vibrato voice.

Or so we thought, because for most of last night's show he sounded droll, unsure of himself, and in need of some Monday night fever.

Or perhaps it's because Bee Gees' songs are not the same without those unique three-part harmonies-or at least two-part, because Barry's high, chipmunk falsetto was also an essential, if weird, element to songs like Night Fever (which was carried by the backing singers last night) and More Than A Woman (drab disco, anyone?).

But since Maurice's death in 2003, the Bee Gees have been on hold and this tour is Robin singing Bee Gees' classics (although he vows to bring Barry with him next time).

The group last played in New Zealand in 1999 at a Western Springs show when 60,000 turned out to see them, and while Robin solo doesn't quite have that pulling power, the die-hard fans are in fine voice.

And there are rare moments of magic, like the tender, towering majesty of New York Mining Disaster, which inspires a stomp and clap-a-long in the chorus.

And You Should Be Dancing from Saturday Night Fever (which he wryly refers to as "that film") is almost enough to get you jive talkin'.

Earlier, support act the Pointer Sisters looked red hot, sounded hotter, and had fun, but sadly they were singing to a backing tape, which leaves you wondering what Automatic, Chain of Fools ("Aretha ain't here tonight," jibes sister Ruth.) and, best of all, Jump (For My Love) would sound like live and in full effect.

One thing's for sure: Robin Gibb would have had an even harder act to follow.

He's a lovely guy, giving big gormless thumbs-up to the crowd, joking round, and having fun.

But his voice lacks impact - the vibrato is more of a Foster and Allen-like resonance - and his phrasing is stilted.

On Islands In the Stream it was as if he was following the line underneath the words on a karaoke screen, If I Can't Have You was like a pleasantly drunk karaoke session, and only the Barbra Streisand impersonator among the backing singers saved Woman In Love from certain death.

My mum was not impressed.

- NZ Herald

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