It was a dark and stormy night. At least it was trying to be, in Reno’s Rancho San Rafael Park. We arrived just after 6 p.m., but due to the strong winds accompanied by an annoying mist of rain we stayed in the car for close to a half hour waiting for a break in the action, which finally came. It was the second night of Artown and the Eric Henry Andersen Band was looking to take the stage if mother nature allowed it.
The program was scheduled to begin at 6:45 p.m. with The Note-Ables opening. They are a group of local musicians with various disabilities that was founded about 20 years ago. The challenges brought on by the less than agreeable weather delayed the show for about an hour.
The Note-Ables finally took the stage and played a great set that included a wonderful performance of Santana’s “Smooth.” During their set and the intermission the weather continued to pound the audience with wind and a light rain.
Miraculously, the elements decided to play nice as Mayor Hillary Schieve and singer Whitney Myer introduced the Eric Henry Andersen Band.
They didn’t waste any time getting the show rolling with “Blow The Roof Off” from Andersen’s new release, “Holding Space.” Andersen has a voice and charisma that captures you right away. Throughout the night he had guest musicians–brass, woodwind and string players (some from the Reno Philharmonic) as well as local artists–who took the spotlight while he and his band rested. Among those were Kate Cotter and Tyler Stafford, just to name a couple.
This was a very well produced and thought out show. Everybody looked like stars, and sounded like stars, because they are stars. I was especially impressed that Andersen had a grand piano to play. This is not the Pioneer Theater; it’s a park. It took a lot of work to get that piano up there and keep it in tune.
This show was too big for the stage. They could have filled a stage twice this size if they had the time and money to do so. It was absolutely wonderful.
The evening was prominently promoted as the debut of a live performance of the locally written and produced video, “Heartbeat To Heartbeat, Eye To Eye.” Before the show, I spoke briefly with Max Volume about it.
“The song and video were put together during the pandemic. We all did our parts in isolation and sent them in,” he said. “Yesterday (dress rehearsal) was the first time we ever did this together, and tonight will be the first live performance ever.”
The stage filled with more people as they drew near the end when the performers from the aforementioned video came up for Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes.” This is a beautiful song (and one of my all time favorites) that never fails to please a crowd, which it did as most in the audience got to their feet and came to the front of stage to sing along. Immediately after this the musicians launched into “Heartbeat To Heartbeat, Eye To Eye.”
The emotional power of this song was enriched by Khalilah Cage’s vocal performance as she was also joined by Cliff Porter in a combined performance that could only be a show closer. The energy and excitement was palpable.
It was an amazing finish to an evening that didn’t look like it was going to be pulled off. Truly a silver lining.