Review of Eddie Money at House of Blues
By Chris Shapiro
It’s not quite dusk. Through the window of the limo, the sun floats on the horizon like Aztec gold preparing to submerge into a sea of darkness. Skyscrapers rise in the distance marking the shrine of all that is called Rock ‘n Roll. Smoke billows into the industrious sky while Tequila is poured from a celebratory bottle. A toast is made for Eddie Pannutti, concert promoter and good friend of legendary rock star Eddie Money.
Pannutti is on his way to see the Money Man at the famous House of Blues to celebrate his 59th birthday. The two men have a lot in common. Not only are they March brothers, with birthdays only eleven days a part, but they’ve spent many years working together in the concert scene.
Pannutti is the longest running concert promoter in Youngstown, Ohio. He’s worked with Money for more than ten years to bring countless and top-notch shows to fans in the Youngstown area.
Through their work, a friendship developed. A friendship that was build from the same passion; that of music. It’s the substance that sustains and inspires. They live for it and will live for it until the sunset of their last day. Rock is in the blood of these March Brothers.
The limo rolls through the downtown of what Huey Lewis and Johnny Colla consider to be the “Heart of Rock ‘n Roll,” Cleveland, Ohio.
The Pannutti party climbs out of their limo and enters the House of Blues with their sunglasses on. Armed with “All Access Passes,” the party makes their way backstage.
A swelling crowd of anxious fans wait for the show to begin but life on the other side of the curtain is calm. There’s the set list for the night, with a few last minute adjustments marked by hand. Two harmonics sit near the drum set one labeled “Maureen” and the other “No Control.” Money’s famous sunglasses and tambourine rest near the guitar stand.
Yet, beneath it all is the hardwood floor of the House of Blues. A floor carved rich with history.
These floor boards are nicked and scratched but full of life because the history of Rock ’n Roll wasn’t record in some ancient book that barely gets opened more than twice a semester. Life carved its way into these floor boards each time a band took this stage.
Blood, sweat and tears of men and women ran down and collected on these floorboards to be upheld with every performance. This history never fades away because it dwells in the heart of every musician and when the curtains go up, they bring to life the foundation upon which they stand. It’s a call to remember those who came before and every performance is a celebration in their honor.
Money’s tour manager meets the Pannutti party and leads them to the dressing rooms. There, they meet Money who greets them with his signature smile and warm hospitality. He’s very pleased to see his good friend.
After the initial hellos and some introductions are made, Money breaks out several jokes that fills the party with laugher. A camera flashes as members stand next to the Godfather of Rock ‘n Roll.
A certain member of the Pannutti party asks Money if he would call someone for him. A girl, a pretty girl. Just a call to say hello.
“Yeah, get her on the phone,” Money says.
The member calls her number twice but there’s no pick-up. Money agrees to leave her a very sweet voice mail singing her name. He’s a class act both on and off the stage.
A few more comments are exchanged before Money announces it’s time for him to, “go to work.”
Sometime has passed. Glenn Symmonds, Money’s drummer and opening act, has finished his set and the Pannutti party and the rest of Cleveland wait for Money.
Announcing his imminence, “The Love of Money” begins to play over the House speakers. It’s the same theme song Donald Trump uses. (Trump took some notes from the real Money Man.)
The curtain goes up and Money commands the stage with “Baby, Hold On.” He whips his sunglasses off and sends them sailing into the crowd.
The moment becomes electric. Smoke swirls in the flashing red, blue and green stage lights. The floorboards radiate with the life concealed in Money’s music. Life becomes a celebration for the crowd, whether there’s a birthday in the House or not.
As “Baby, Hold On” plays, an argument should be made for Money to be considered for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He meets every requirement but more importantly he’s a damn talented song writer.
Consider the construction of “Baby, Hold On,” which is extremely unique.
First off, Money actually wrote the song with help of James Lyon. Money wasn’t singing someone else’s song. This was his voice both inner and vocally.
Second, it’s a pop song that doesn’t follow the mold of most pop songs. Generally speaking, pop songs begin with a phase or a hook that leads to a verse followed by another verse. Then, the first chorus. Next, is the third verse followed by the second chorus that leads to the bridge/solo that fades back to the third chorus and the song comes to an end.
Money doesn’t do that. The first lyrics he sings is the chorus. Money doesn’t waste time describing his song or building to the message. Instead, he streamlines and delivers directly. In doing so, he captures the essence of the song which is: “Don’t waste time with anything else, love is real. Let’s hold on to it.”
It appears as a simple approach and all writers in all genres try to duplicate it.
Any good screen writer knows to begin a scene at the last possible moment to capture the importance of the scene and not bore the audience. That’s why scenes begin with action. It’s like a loaf of bread, cut away the bad edges and get to the good center.
Money does what few singer/songwriters achieve, delivery of the core of as a whole. Verses and lyrics are easily forgotten but choruses are remembered. For instance, name the second verse of Huey Lewis and the News’ “Hip to be Square” now name the chorus.
To write a song centered on opening with a chorus requires the songwriter to condense its entire message into that ten to fifteen second duration so that it can stand on its own. It has to be crafted in such a way as to be interpreted without any support.
George Harrison achieved this with his song “Got My Mind Set on You” and Belinda Carlisle also with her “Heaven is a Place on Earth.” Both became number one on the Billboard and top-ten worldwide, though neither written by them.
“Baby, Hold On,” Money’s first single, hit eleven on the Billboard charts and still stands today as a classic.
The show continues and the Pannutti party enjoys hits such as “Endless Nights,” “Wanna Go Back,” and the top-ten “Walk on Water.”
The sound of Money is at platinum status. Guitarist Tommy Girvin electrifies the solos, especially on “Endless Nights” and “Trinidad.”
Symmonds and Lee Beverly drive rhythm into the soul of every audience member while Chris Groves brings the magic in songs like “Walk on Water” to life and Money is having as much fun as he always does.
Audience members chant “Eddie!” “Eddie!” in-between songs. Money makes a few jokes about not being in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But it’s “alright” he says because his fans are his “Hall of Fame.”
Girvin takes center stage as he performs a solo on acoustic guitar that transitions into “I’ll Get By,” a song Money has dedicated to Bill Graham who passed away in 1991. Graham was the concert promoter of the West Coast during the decades when rock music ruled the world. He was instrumental in Money’s life and a dear friend. Money’s performance of “I’ll Get By” is personal and deep-touching to listen to and to watch.
Next is “No Control.” Money grabs his harmonica and lays down smoking’ tracks all-throughout the song and a cool bluesy solo during the bridge.
The show’s momentum builds as Money plays some of his highest charting singles such as “Take Me Home Tonight,” “Two Tickets” and “Think I’m In Love.” The positive energy comes to a climax with the performance of “Shakin’.”
Money has rocked the house.
Back inside their limo, the Pannutti party collapses into their seats and set course for their next destination. The show may be over but the night, for a rock star, is young.
The sun has been replaced by a silver moon. Self-reflection stares back from tinted windows. Thoughts of the night replay in the mind.
On the highway overpass, a sea of darkness blankets the city lights beneath. They shine in the spring night like the dreams of tomorrow, sleeping, until they receive the blessing from the light of day.
It’s just like Money sang, “The future is ours to see,” and you never know who will be part of it.