When the marquee of the beautifully restored Genesee Theatre switched to Wilson Phillips and The Rembrandts, it appeared to be a match made in 1990s heaven. And while both groups delivered everything expected from the final era before smart phones and social networking, the evening was actually a much-wider time capsule that encompassed a multitude of styles.
If there was a theme to Wilson Phillips’ 90-minute set, it could be summarized by the title of the smash “Impulsive.”
Carnie Wilson, Wendy Wilson and Chynna Phillips, backed by a four-piece band, took the headlining position, performing much of their self-titled debut that moved over 10 million copies, plus some less common but nonetheless lovely selections off 1992’s follow-up “Shadows And Light.” Though the trio spent many of the ensuing years on hiatus outside of the occasional covers collection, everyone appeared to be back on track come the bubbly opener “It’s Only Life,” the positive pop of “The Dream Is Still Alive” and the easygoing ballad “You’re In Love.”
If there was a theme to Wilson Phillips’ 90-minute set, it could be summarized by the title of the smash “Impulsive.” Not only did they throw in surprises as wide as the original “Fueled For Houston” to Electric Light Orchestra’s “Don’t Bring Me Down,” but everyone always said exactly what was on their mind, swapped drop dead hysterical impressions of Cher, The Bee Gees and Cyndi Lauper, then regularly giggled along like a high school reunion rather than a carefully scripted show.
In this instance, it totally worked, especially when the girls opened up the stage to a couple dozen animated fans for ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” and “Does Your Mother Know.” Yet Wilson Phillips was also serious at times, mainly when it came to honoring Chynna’s parents John and Michelle Phillips of The Mamas & The Papas (“California Dreamin’,” “Monday, Monday”) and the Wilson sisters’ dad Brian from The Beach Boys (“God Only Knows”), all of which came from the group’s latest album “Dedicated.”
Wilson Phillips also demonstrated gorgeous three-part harmonies during “You Won’t See Me Cry” (dedicated to a few attendees who just lost a loved one), along with the stunning “Release Me” (the first track they ever wrote together). There was no question “Hold On” (revived in the “Bridesmaids” movie) would be saved until the very end, and if the volume of the sing-a-long was any indication, it will always be the group’s main anthem of sisterhood, strength and survival.
Many most likely remembered openers The Rembrandts primarily for “I’ll Be There For You” (the theme song from “Friends”), and while that definitely was on the docket in full audience participation mode, the duo comprised of Danny Wilde and Phil Solem actually struck gold on a few other occasions. Their completely acoustic set had its fair share of tuning issues and awkward banter, but once the pair got down to business with “Someone,” “This House Is Not A Home” (backed by a story about the video shoot at the Playboy Mansion alongside the late Hugh Hefner) and “Just The Way It Is, Baby,” it brought everyone back to the jangle pop days of Crowded House, Squeeze or the BoDeans and sturdily supplemented the ladies.
Click here for more Wilson Phillips photos from the Genesee Theatre.
Upcoming concert highlights at the Genesee Theatre include Kristin Chenoweth (Oct. 1); America and Al Stewart (Oct. 6); Blue Oyster Cult, April Wine and Head East (Oct. 7); Queen Machine (Oct. 10); Ronnie Milsap and Exile (Oct. 12); “50 Summers Of Love” starring Mickey Dolenz, Mark Lindsay and The Fab Four (Oct. 15); “A Tribute To Ricky Nelson & Chuck Berry” starring Matthew & Gunnar Nelson and Monkey Business (Oct. 19); Chris Isaak (Oct. 20); Led Zeppelin 2 (Oct. 21); Easton Corbin (Oct. 27) and “Ladies Of The ‘80s” starring Debbie Gibson, Lisa Lisa and Jody Watley (Oct. 28). For additional details, visit GeneseeTheatre.com.