America Invaded By Gilb and Elt
Writer: Lenny Hayes
Date: 06 October 1973
Backed by an orchestra in black sweatshirts emblazoned with a telling "G", Gilbert OíSullivan made his New York debut at Avery Fisher Hall, known until only two days before as Philharmonic at which time the above mentioned named noted phonograph manufacturer made a cultural donation estimated to be in the neighborhood of ten million dollars.
Though a planned earlier weekday performance had to be cancelled because of lack of response, there was little question that Mr. Alone Again left scoring a telling success. His show was smooth, carefully planned, and without flaw. For his troubles, he was accorded a generous reception by the nearly full house.
Actually it was probably just as well that there was only one performance. Gilbert, except for a few spot television appearances and a continual ride on the top 40 charts for the last year or so, must be considered a literal newcomer here.
His audience is strictly clean, young and high excitable on one end, suburban and middle of the road on the other: a Friday date night crowd, to be sure, and Gilbert lived up to all their expectations.
He bounded out of the wings in a basic black letter sweater with red striping, following a set by thrush Maureen McGovern in which she did a medley of her hit ("The Morning After") as well as several Las Vegas-oriented showstoppers.
He looked strangely normal despite some of the freakier pictures of him weíve seen over here, and with nary a word to the audience, launched immediately into his repertoire: "I still believe in Sunday a day of rest..."
Fortuitously, there was a steady stream of pre-teen girls, running up to the Fisher stage to present him with such valuables as a blow-up baby elephant, a couple of purple daisies and various notes. He had a kind word for most of them, and apparently had little loosening up to do; he was on friendly terms with the crowd right from the start. He made a few self-deprecating quips about his bell-hop trousers, added a couple of remarks on the Bobby Riggs - Billy Jean King "Battle of the Sexes" tennis match the night before, got a big hand when he amended "much as I dislike womenís liberation..." Well, we all canít be part of the solution...
Predictably, his American hits gathered the biggest response, with Clair opening the initial cheers and Alone Again Naturally setting them in focus. At times he was really quite engaging, as when he leaped from his piano to do a quick two-step with conductor Johnny Spence, or singing a childrenís birthday song written for his manager, Gordon Mills.
Gilbert also bowed several new songs from his forthcoming album, "Iím A Writer Not A Fighter", and despite expected audience unfamiliarity, they were quite well received.