I will be the first to admit that I am a secret-lover of funk music. Something about the 70s soulful sounds just make for the perfect vibe. With that being said, I will be the first to admit that Tower of Power was not a band that ever came across my radar. Even before their performance on Friday, I checked with a resident music lover (my mother) who had never heard of the ensemble group before. So, I went into this performance completely blind.
Tower of Power was formed in 1968 and has been entertaining audiences worldwide for 55 years. The soul and funk group not only has an extensive discography of original hits, but the group has also traveled and backed artists such as Elton John and The Grateful Dead.
Clearly the band’s greatest strengths lie in its individual members and, thankfully, their performance at the Luhrs Performing Arts Center gave just about all of its ten performers a chance to shine. The standout members in my opinion were Tom E. Politzer, the band’s lead tenor saxophone, Roger Smith on keyboard, Emilio Castillo with background vocals and Mike Jerel on lead vocals.
Jerel had a perfect soulful voice and truly knew how to work the crowd with each number he performed. Unfortunately, I feel he and the band as a whole were let down by there simply being too many cooks in the kitchen. With ten members, each seemingly playing a louder and louder instrument, some lyrics and powerhouse moments were drowned out by the more bombastic noise.
Some of the band’s standout numbers from the night included their opener “We Came to Play,” which was then followed up by the excellent “Don’t Change Horses (In the Middle of the Stream),” and their final encore number “Souled Out” brought the roof down in spectacular fashion.