Few artists of the 1980s burned as brightly as Billy Ocean, but no sooner than he dominated the charts with a stream of ballads and dance floor fillers, he stepped away from the spotlight to focus on family life. Years passed, trends changed, and outside of the occasional recording or tour overseas, his visibility lessened in the US, though none of that stopped the oldies from staying in regular rotation on radio.
The reaction to the original “They’ll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry)” was so hearty, Billy Ocean temporarily lost his place and that reception only escalated by the time “Suddenly” swung around.
Perhaps that’s why the singer/songwriter was welcomed back with open arms at Joe’s Live during his most extensive outing on these shores in 20 years to support the current collection “Here You Are: The Music Of My Life” (Legacy Recordings). Boasting two entirely new songs, eight of “influence and inspiration” and five past standouts, the project is a must have for any longtime fan and also a fitting introduction to those now connecting with Ocean.
Along with a scorching five-piece band and three soulful background singers, the 67-year-old may have looked a lot grayer, but his voice was an exact replica of the era that produced “Love Zone,” “One Of Those Nights,” “The Colour Of Love” and “Mystery Lady.” Ocean beamed across every last note of each, ensured everyone was enjoying themselves and looked like he was having just as much fun in the process.
There was a bit of idle chatter throughout a remake of Sam Cooke’s hushed “A Change Is Gonna Come,” but that didn’t stop the suit-wearing star from giving his all and thankfully proper attention diverted back to the headliner and musicians come Bob Marley & The Wailers’ “No Woman, No Cry.”
The reaction to the original “They’ll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry)” was so hearty, Ocean temporarily lost his place and that reception only escalated by the time “Suddenly” swung around. An ecstatic female fan in the front row even scored a smooch during “Loverboy,” which laid the foundation for him to ask “if I’m you’re loverboy, will you get into my car?”
Of course, that meant “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car” was right around the corner, as was “When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going,” followed by another attendee getting Ocean’s attention to announce she was a refuge from Puerto Rico. “This is your night” he insisted while clasping her hand and the band kicked into the cherished “Caribbean Queen,” coaxing faithful to get moving and likely convincing every last one of them that Billy Ocean is back and raring to keep riding around America.
For additional information on Billy Ocean, visit BillyOcean.com.
For a list of upcoming shows at Joe’s Live, visit JoesLiveRosemont.com.