MICHAEL BOLTON @ Perth Concert Hall gets 5/10

Michael Bolton @ Perth Concert Hall
Sunday, June 24, 2018


Michael Bolton was, without a doubt, one of the most ubiquitous voices of the 1990s pop charts. With record sales reportedly over the 75 million mark, Bolton’s power ballads provided the soundtrack to many a romance and heartbreak and are still held dear by his legion of adoring fans to this day.

Taste, however, is a strange thing. What to one person may be a soaring, inspirational experience might, to another, be perceived as an overly produced and at times cheesy ordeal. Unfortunately this evening I found myself to be one of the latter. Make no mistake though, Bolton is surely well aware of his target audience and, giving credit where credit is due, from the moment he made his way out onto the stage he gave them exactly what they had come to see.

Backed by The Perth Symphony Orchestra, Bolton strode confidently onto the stage to thunderous applause from an expectant audience who, over the course of the evening, had no qualms about expressing their love for him with some ladies in attendance being far more vocal about it than others. Opening with Stand By Me he followed up with The Bee Gees’ classic To Love Somebody and from the off he obviously had the crowd in the palm of his very experienced hand as they joyfully sang along, at times almost drowning out Bolton’s trademark vocals. Moving over to take a seat by the grand piano he continued on with his breakthrough 1987 hit cover of the Otis Reading classic (Sitting On) The Dock of the Bay before launching into this worldwide smash hit I Said I Loved You But I Lied.

Obviously at ease with his audience, Bolton showed moments of dry wit as he joked with his fans between songs and even managed to squeeze in a plug for his tour sponsor, a supplier of online audio books who shall remain nameless here. You Don’t Know Me was followed up by the Frank Sinatra classic That’s Life before inviting Australian songstress Silvie Paladino to join him onstage for several duets that included To Make You Feel My Love, How Am I Supposed To Live Without You and Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.  It was at this point that one of his adoring female fans decided to leap up and hand him a picture which at first appeared to have him a little confused until she also produced a sharpie and he realised that she was asking for an autograph. Bolton again showed his humorous side by obliging but also adding that this was the first time he’d done this as normally he’d just say “I’m doing a show right now”.

With Paladino taking her leave, Michael Bolton regaled the crowd with an insight into his experience performing with the world renowned tenor Luciano Pavarotti who taught him, amongst other things, that “Puccini is not a mushroom” before performing Nessun Dorma which, although it went down well on the night, did seem to be a little bit of a stretch for him vocally. Georgia On My Mind followed before Bolton exited the stage and Paladino returned for a solo version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.  With Bolton still absent, his band and the orchestra performed a curious saxophone laden instrumental version of You Are So Beautiful before the man reappeared, seemingly taking his life in his own hands by belting out When A Man Loves A Woman from the aisles where I was expecting at least one of his adoring female fans would try and seize their opportunity to get their hands on him but he fortunately made it back on to the stage unscathed.

With Bolton back onstage, the between song banter was gone and the tempo of the evening picked as he bought the evening home with another of his mega-hits How Can We Be Lovers followed up by Steel Bars and finishing off his performance with Time, Love and Tenderness. Leaving the very impressive Perth Symphony Orchestra on stage, Bolton and his band briefly took their leave before they returned to a rapturous ovation and performed Soul Provider as their encore.

While I personally found this evening’s performance to be perhaps too slick, polished and to be completely honest, a little bland and formulaic I feel it must again be noted that Michael Bolton definitely knows his target audience and, judging by the reactions of the crowd as they were making their way out of the venue, tonight he delivered precisely the performance they wanted sending them all home happy.


Photos by Linda Dunjey