LIVE: Orleans @ the Empire State Plaza, 6/3/15

Fly Amero of Orleans

Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Timothy Reidy

The Empire State Plaza’s summertime Capital Concert Series kicked off earlier this month with an eclectic triple bill featuring ’70s rockers Orleans, Little Feat’s guitar tandem of Paul Barrere & Fred Tackett and the homegrown talent of Fort Plains soulful rock singer-songwriter Jocelyn Arndt – and some logistical changes, too.

Due to the ongoing reconstruction of the NYS Museum steps (which also usually serve as seating for concerts), the stage has been moved from the south end of the plaza to the north end (on State Street, in front of the Capitol Building), and the stage itself has been downsized by about a third, but neither of those changes proved to be much of an issue, as the crowd spread out on the plaza to soak up the sun and the soft-rock sounds of Orleans.

“Along the way, we lost some and gained some more,” said Orleans bassist Lance Hoppen, one of two remaining original members (along with guitarist John Hall), following the deaths of drummer Wells Kelley in 1984 and guitarist Larry Hoppen in 2012. But the core sound of Orleans remained intact with vocalist-guitarist Fly Amero (who took commad frant and center on stage), keyboardist Lane Hoppen (yes, another of the Hoppen brothers) and drummer Peter O’Brien filling in. Of course, they played the vintage hits – the opening “Let There Be Music,” “Dance With Me” and “Love Takes Time,” as well as Hall’s anti-nuke anthem, “Power” – but they’re no mere nostalgia act, offering the elegiac title track of their latest album, No More Than You Can Handle, and previewing their new single, “Beautiful World,” both of which nestled nicely into that trademark Orleans sound.

But it wasn’t until Barrere & Tackett joined them for the final three songs of their 90-minute set that Orleans really caught fire. Of course, one of those was Orleans’ smash hit “Still the One,” but surprisingly the other two were the Little Feat gems “Two Trains” and an epic jam on “Dixie Chicken.” Odd, yes, but it worked…

Barrere & Tackett’s hour-long set was a stellar batch of Little Feat nuggets re-invented and boiled down to an acoustic guitar duo but as fine and funky as ever from the opening “Down On the Farm” to the Tex-Mex ballad rendition of “Willin’” (with Tackett switching to mandolin) to the rousing closer, “Feats Don’t Fail Me Now.” Along the way, they also paid tribute to the Band with the strong medley of “Long Black Veil/The Weight.”

Opening act Jocelyn Arndt and her band (also featuring brother Chris Arndt on guitar) kicked off the evening, rocking the plaza with a high-energy, soulful, 40-minute set that showcased stellar originals like the metalesque opener, “One Kiss,” and the sultry, jazz-tinged “Gaslight,” as well as a handful of choice covers ranging from Alannah Myles’ rockin’ “Black Velvet” to Tracy Chapman’s “Gimme One Reason” to the unlikely but powerhouse rendition of Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up.”

Let There Be Music
She’s Into Something
Dance With Me
Dancin’ in the Moonlight
Please Be There
Beautiful World
No More Than You Can Handle
Love Takes Time
Power (John Hall)
Two Trains Runnin’ (Little Feat) (with Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett)
Still the One (with Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett)
Dixie Chicken (Little Feat) (with Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett)

Down On the Farm
Candy Man
Honest Man
Hate to Lose Your Lovin’
Church Falling Down
Sailing Shoes
Long Black Veil > The Weight
Feats Don’t Fail Me Now

John Hall, Peter O’Brien, Fly Amero of Orleans
Barrere and Tackett
Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett

Jocelyn Arndt
Jocelyn Arndt

Jocelyn Arndt
Jocelyn Arndt

Custom Stickers, Die Cut Stickers, Bumper Stickers - Sticker Mule

  1. Stan Johnson says

    Good coverage Timothy.

  2. Timothy Reidy says


Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.