Sunday, 13 September 2015

REVIEW: Eric Burdon shouldn't be misunderstood at Penn's Peak

I'm just a soul whose intentions are good,” Eric Burdon, vocalist for the 1960s seminal blues rockers The Animals, sang Saturday at Penn’s Peak near Jim Thorpe. “Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood.”

The lyrics from that 1965 hit, “Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood," could very well explain Burdon’s performance.

The singer has long been an idiosyncratic live performer, sometimes so frustrating that he caused a reviewer of his 1991 show at Allentown’s Mayfair festival to write, “Well, at least it was free.”

Eric Burdon at Penn's Peak (BRIAN HINELINE/Special to The Morning Call)

But such reactions may very well not understand Burdon, and for those who do, there was a lot to like about his performance Saturday.

No, it wasn’t a smooth trip: Even “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” was changed into a reggae song in which Burdon sometimes intensely growled and other times simply let the audience sing. When he chose to sing on the very good Animals hit “When I Was Young," there was soul to his voice. In other moments of the song, his voice was rough.

But the nearly full crowd was only too happy to help Burdon by singing along, and actually gave him a partial standing ovation on “Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.”

Other times during the set, it was as if Burdon became entranced by the music. On a 12-minute version of The Animals hit “We Gotta Get Out of This Place,” he transitioned into the new “River is Rising,” singing with his head back and arms up, repeating, “Carry me off to another world.”

More than half the 86-minute, 13-song set was The Animals songs, starting with the opening “Don’t Bring Me Down.” But the 74-year-old singer, his hair white a wearing shades, a T-shirt and open shirt covering his girth, also sang songs from what he called his “current album,” the 2013 disc “Til Your River Runs Dry.


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