Remember the phrase, "This ain't your father's Oldsmobile?" In no way are Matthew and Gunnar Nelson clones of their famous father, Rick Nelson. The physical resemblance is indeed uncanny but that's where it ends. Nelson rocks!
With the sound system cranked up to a notch above ear-splitting - the twins claimed Salt Lake as their own the minute they opened their mouths to sing.After a rousing (LOUD!) 55 minute set by House of Lords, Nelson arrived on stage with the requisite fog, colored laser lights and a backdrop of white lights shimmering like stars.
But it was solid rockin' music that won the hearts of the sold-out crowd, not stage theatrics. Hit after hit kept the audience standing and rocking along with the twin brothers. A first-rate security crew kept the fans out of the aisles and confined to their seats. It was an excruciatingly loud, wonderfully exciting and thankfully safe concert.
After "Fill You Up," "I Can Hardly Wait" and "Bits and Pieces" - the more extroverted twin, Gunnar, paused in awe at the explosive and raucous welcome from the Salt Lake audience. "What an audience!" he shouted. "Where were you guys three months ago?" he joked. The duo's reaction to a house full of adoring, cheering fans was a delight to watch. Perhaps it's just too soon for them to be jaded, but the joy Matthew and Gunnar received from performing was clearly visible and hugely contagious.
The twins' hit "After the Rain" was performed much harder than the version heard on their album of the same name. "Only Time Will Tell" and "Will You Love Me" mined the same vein of hard, clear rock. But it was "Love and Affection" that set the staid walls of Kingsbury Hall literally trembling with cheers.
The evening was punctuated with positive messages about how hard times develop character and that everything happens for a reason. The youth in the audience heard a message to take friends dabbling in illicit drugs and "turn 'em on to a good piece of music and a ghetto blaster!"
Did you know that Nelson performed a song on the soundtrack for "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure"? It's another rocker with a capital R - "Two Heads Are Better Than One."
After performing "Desire," the twins bade Salt Lake "Keep on rockin' " and tried to leave. They came back after a Richter-scale call for more convinced Matthew and Gunnar that Salt Lake still wanted to party.
Donning long-tailed, embroidered frock coats - the blond twins looked like Renaissance troubadors as they switched to acoustic guitars. Gunnar told the cheering crowd that they would be hearing a new song before anyone else. "It comes from a very pure place - it's a song about hope," he said. Then he dedicated it to anyone who ever lost someone and had to go on with their lives. Anyone who couldn't see this song was written for their father, needed a heart transplant. "I remember back when Papa would laugh as I held his hand," "Don't be afraid to say `I love you' " and "Let my strength be your own," were lyrics from this song. While singing, the two brothers stood facing each other and put their heads together. The emotions portrayed were tender, deep and beautiful.
Unlike most musicians, who whip through perfunctory encores, the Nelsons made their encore a memorable one. A real communication had taken place and the twins seemed reluctant to end it. Book the Salt Palace next time, boys. We'll all be bringing friends.