Now in its seventh consecutive year, the Happy Together tour once again landed in Long Island, NY on the in the round spinning stage of the NYCB Theater (formerly the Westbury Music Fair). Hosted by the Turtles Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan (aka “Flo & Eddie”), they brought a set of Turtles tunes along with (as they do every year) a collection of fellow hit makers from the ‘60’s and ‘70s. With a house band of musicians led by guitarist Godfrey Townsend, this year’s lineup did not disappoint.
All the performers on this tour range in age from fifties to seventies. There was no shortage of old people jokes, which worked well for the crowd since most of them were of the same age themselves. “Yesterday I went to brush a long hair off my shoulder, and it was growing out of my ear!” cracked Three Dog Night’s Chuck Negron.
Opening the show was British Invasion star Billy J. Kramer (a replacement for the advertised Spencer Davis who was unable to participate in this leg of the tour). Kramer, a Long Island resident himself now for thirty years, performed songs of his era inclusive of his own “Bad To Me,” a song which was given to him by John Lennon in 1963 and became a number one hit record for his band, Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas.
Next up were the Cowsills; Susan and brothers Paul and Bob. With the same incredibly perfect harmonies they’ve always had, these guys could sing the phone book and it would still be a joy to hear. Thoroughly entertaining, they performed all their hits, ending with their #1 single from 1969, “Hair.”
Gary Puckett came on to perform the hits he had with his band the Union Gap. His versions of “Young Girl” and “Lady Willpower” still sounded exactly as they did when they were chart toppers back in the late ‘60s.
Puckett was followed by Mark Linsday, the lead singer of the band Paul Revere and the Raiders. Now in his mid-seventies, his energy and enthusiasm on stage was equal to someone half his age. “Kicks,” “Indian Reservation” and others were sung as if these songs were still new to him.
Chuck Negron (the former singer of Three Dog Night), had the audience singing along with most of his well-known hits; ”One,” “Eli’s Coming” and most notably, the big smash, “Joy to the World.”
The final set came from the Turtles, including plenty of their silly comedic antics– always a fun ingredient to their performances. On this night, they opened with Mark Volman dressed in a fur coat and a wig, doing an impersonation of UK singer Adele. Howard Kaylan was confined to a chair throughout, as he had suffered a foot injury and was sporting a cast, unable to walk. But this did not deter from their show, as they ran through a number of their hit songs (ending, of course, with “Happy Together”). They even touched on “Peaches en Regalia,” the Frank Zappa instrumental (via their association with Zappa as part of their stint with the Mothers of Invention in the early Seventies). There was a serious moment when Howard explained to the audience how his partner Mark is a recent cancer survivor and is now in the best shape of his life, clearly discerned just by his presence on stage.
The show ended with the Turtles inviting all the other performers back on stage and each did one more abbreviated version of their biggest hit with the help of all the other singers, musicians, and even the audience. This travelling musical caravan is really quite fun, indeed they are all “Happy Together.” Catch them if you can, the tour runs in the U.S. through early September.