One indication of the positive impact a musical group makes on the world just might be having a tribute band that honors it. Iconic singing group the Bee Gees has several, and Shippensburg’s H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center hosted a good one Saturday night.
The members of Australian Bee Gees are Michael Clift as Barry Gibb, David Scott as Robin Gibb and Wayne Hosking as Maurice Gibb. They gave a nearly full house a show filled with energy, enthusiasm, and 23 Bee Gees hits, along with two songs the Bee Gees wrote for other artists — the duet “Islands in the Stream,” which was for Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers, and “Grease (Is the Word),” one of Frankie Valli’s solo No. 1 hits.
During the performance, the singers encouraged the audience to clap and sing along with them and as the evening progressed, the crowd’s energy level and participation just increased with each song performed.
Visual effects, along with film clips of past shows synced with the live vocals, were projected onto a giant screen behind the group. They added an extra dimension to the show over and above the well-done but more conventional light show seen at most live-band performances.
Tight vocals, sung mostly in falsetto, have always distinguished the Bee Gees’ music from that of most other bands. The singers in the A.B.G.s were able to hit those high notes all night long, and two of the three members played instruments in addition to singing.
The backing band was comprised of bassist Tony Richards and drummer Rick Powel, in addition to a guitarist and a female backup singer who got to shine when she sang the Dolly Parton half of the duet “Islands in the Stream.” A few of the songs required some pre-recorded backing tracks, but they were quite unobtrusive.
Some background is important in providing perspective when considering a tribute band. The original Bee Gees — Barry, Maurice and Robin Gibbs — were born in England, and moved to Australia with their family in 1958, where they started performing on the radio. They moved back to England in 1967, and the fame began — “New York Mining Disaster,” “Massachusetts,” “I Started a Joke” and “I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You” were all hits during that decade.
They really hit superstardom in the ’70s with “Jive Talkin’,’’ “You Should Be Dancing” and the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack album.
In the ’80s, Barry in particular remained in the spotlight. Among other work, he co-produced and wrote many of the songs on Barbra Streisand’s “Guilty” album, and won a Grammy for the title song, which was a duet he performed with Streisand.
In 1981 the Bee Gees released the album “Lying Eyes,” which was the first CD ever to be played in public, according to Melinda Bilyeu, Hector Cook and Andrew Môn Hughes in their 2004 book “The Bee Gees: Tales of the brothers Gibb.”
In 1997 they were inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, along with awards from the American Music Awards and the World Music Awards.
In 2003, Maurice died at the age of 53. Brother Robin died in May of 2012. Barry is the sole remaining brother, but still performs.
For upcoming performances or additional information on the H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center, visit www.luhrscenter.com/