DIRTY DANCING _ THE CONCERT TOUR Wednesday only at the Salt Palace.
The atmosphere at the Salt Palace Wednesday night was infectious _ kind of like being at a 4th of July picnic. Those attending spanned several generations, from grandmothers to toddlers, and there was a feeling of celebration in the air.
If there is a generation gap, it was difficult to find Wednesday night.
"Let the good times roll," sang Bill Medley _ and everyone did. There were few people in the Salt Palace who didn't find at least one song to stir the soul and get the feet tapping and the hands clapping. Once the tempo of the concert was established everyone jumped in. The concert wasn't perfect, but it was fun. There was a ripple of disappointment when the emcee announced that Eric Carmen and Mary Clayton would not be performing due to scheduling conflicts. but no one rushed to the box office to take advantage of a refund offer. Instead the crowd quieted in anticipation of the long awaited live performance by the Dirty Dancing dancers, band and Bill Medley and the Contours.
The show started with a medley from the band, instrumental versions of the hit that set the mood. Once the crowd had warmed to the music it was time for the dancers. The dancers ran through a bevy of routines as the band belted out the familiar dance tunes from the movie. Patty Hart and Rolene Martin, who later performed backup duties for Medley, filled in for Clayton and did an admirable job. Both were able to recreate the throaty Clayton style and the crowd responded with hand clapping and dancing in the aisles.
The concert really took off when the reformed Contours, a five-member Motown group took the stage. The group sparked the crowd with excellent renditions of "Get Ready," "Higher and Higher," "In the Still of the Night," and "Cry to Me." The crowd was on its toes in anticipation of the show's most popular tune "Do You Love Me," when the Dirty Dancers broke in and gave the audience instructions in the art of Dirty Dancing. To illustrate, several members of the audience were brought on stage to dance with members of the troupe. Once the instruction portion was complete, the Contours let lose with song and the crowd was in full swing.
Despite a 15-minute intermission, the audience was still raring to go when Medley strutted onto the stage for the final portion of the show. Medley's gravelly baritone was full and powerful, and if anyone was still sitting at that point, they were soon on their feet. Medley was full of energy as he half ran and half bounced from one side of the stage to the other. The crowd loved it. Medley varied the song menu with "Soul and Inspiration" and "You've Lost the Loving Feeling" from his Righteous Brothers days and a hard driving version of Bob Seeger's "Old Time Rock and Roll."
Medley ended the night with a powerful rendition of "(I've Had) The Time of My Life," the hit theme song from the movie. Hart and Martin proved very adequate substitutes for Jennifer Warnes. If there was one disappointment, it was the lack of an encore. The crowd called and called, but it just didn't come.