Happy Together Tour 2015
Featuring The Turtles, Mark Lindsay,
The Association, The Grass Roots,
The Cowsills & The Buckinghams
July 26, 2015
Costa Mesa, CA
Review & Photos by Junkman
Summer time and state fairs always bring families together for a night out. It's a time- honored tradition. Whether it's eating corn dogs and funnel cakes, or BBQ and beer, or going on thrill rides or checking out the livestock, there is something for everyone at the fair. At the Orange County Fair, which runs every July and August, this is the case as well. They also have the 8,000 seat capacity Pacific Ampitheatre, and for the few weeks the fair is running, there is the Toyota Concert series featuring a variety of acts.
For 2015, the Happy Together Tour returned to Orange County with a variety of acts from the 60s who played short sets filled with hits. In all honesty, it was the "survivors" of those acts that made an appearance. Many of the members of those bands are no longer with us unfortunately, but as they say, the music lives on. To say this was an "oldies revue" would be an understatement. I felt like I was the youngest person there, and I'm in my 50s.
The Buckinghams got things started with singer Carl Giammarese and bassist Nick Fortuna, backed by a tight band that supplied the music for all the acts — guitarist Godfrey Townsend, bassist John Montagna, drummer Steve Murphy, and keyboardist Manny Focarazzo — all former touring members of the Alan Parsons Project,
They were as energetic as can be, and they thanked the crowd in between songs for remembering them, as old images of them showed on the jumbo screens that adorned each side of the stage. They closed their brief set with "Kind Of A Drag," their biggest hit.
Next up were what I thought musically, the best act of the night, the Cowsills. Consisting of siblings Susan, Paul, and Bob Cowsill, they immediately got the crowd singing along with their first hit "The Rain, The Park, and Other Things," and generally looked like they were having fun.
Their all-too-brief set (as was the case with all the bands) ended with "Love American Style" (they did the theme song to the 70s TV show). They then brought out their brother John, currently the drummer for the Beach Boys, to help sing their hit single "Hair," released in 1969. The place erupted in sing-alongs.
The Grass Roots or what is left of them followed. Consisting mainly of guitarist Dusty Hanvey and bassist and vocalist Mark Dawson, neither original members, but they got the job done delivering the hits.
A highlight was Hanvey dedicating an a cappella version of "Find The Cost Of Freedom" to Vietnam War Vets, and doubled as an intro to the 1967 hit "Let's Live For Today." My two favorite Grass Roots numbers "Temptation Eyes" and "Midnight Confessions" concluded the set to a huge applause.
The Association followed, and featured original member Jules Alexander and longtime member Jim Yester, along with Del Ramos, the brother of the late Larry Ramos. Vocally, it was great to hear the old hits "Windy," "Never My Love" and "Cherish." You felt like you were at a 1960's prom, dancing slow.
Visually it was like being at a retirement home. The entire audience was sitting down all through the set, and the Association, dressed in white, could have passed as orderlies, as they seemed to be the only people in the place with any life to them. The cranky old guy behind me even barked at me to "sit down" as I shot a few pictures.
A breath of life hit the stage next in the form of former Paul Revere and The Raiders singer Mark Lindsay. Looking rather svelte at the ripe old age of 73, the former heart throb was all over the stage, and opened up with the appropriate number, the theme for the 1960s TV show "Where The Action Is." He played up-tempo songs throughout his brief set.
There were Raiders hits galore including "Just Like Me," "Hungry" and "Kicks." A huge highlight was during "Indian Reservation" when fans in the audience were air drumming during the song’s famous drum break. A great set. The guy is just ageless. But alas, no ponytail or side burns, ladies...
The final act, the Turtles, or more specifically vocalists Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman, also known as Flo and Eddie, were perhaps the biggest hit-makers of the evening. After all, "Happy Together" is the huge hit that the tour is named after. Entering the stage in a hooded penguin sweatshirt, Volman lip synced "Let It Go," the hit from the movie "Frozen," all the while being chastised by Kaylan.
This exchange finally led to a version of "She'd Rather Be With Me," which was overshadowed by Volman's attempts to bounce a drumstick off the ground before tapping out the four-note cowbell break towards the end of the song. After trying it a few times and failing, he finally landed it, and the crowd gave a light applause. I noticed quite a few shouts of "more cowbell" from the cheap seats.
After leading the crowd through the "No No No" during their version of Bob Dylan's "It Ain't Me Babe," they did a quick version of their tongue-in-cheek 1968 hit "Elenore" before bringing back the rest of the groups on the tour to sing a line or two from each group’s biggest hits, until everyone was assembled onstage to perform "Happy Together." And that's all folks!
Not a bad time to listen to some of the biggest radio hits of the 60s and enjoy a summer night in Southern California. Did I mention that the ticket gave you free admission into the Orange County Fair? Since it was a Sunday night, I'm guessing many of the crowd did not take part in that. Most were here, at least for a little while, to relive the glory years of the 1960s with a little taste of the songs that helped get them through it. A fun time together, happily.