“I LOVE IT!” Decades Rewind LIVE! at Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre

By Spotlight Central. Photos by Love Imagery

Decades Rewind is a memorable and nostalgic show which features the top hits of the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s — all done in reverse order! The show boasts a cast of 14 performers — six singers and eight instrumentalists — who perform unique medleys from three of the most popular decades in music history.

This touring theatrical concert extravaganza is known for delighting audiences not only with classic tunes, but with appealing costumes, rock n’ roll stage lighting, and poignant and nostalgic videos of American culture projected on a series of three large screens behind the performers.

Says tour manager Sandy Gatti, “The idea came from my husband, Peter, a keyboardist, and his friend, drummer Mark Blinkhorn, who played ‘60's, ‘70's, and ‘80's music together in Florida, and sometimes added props and costumes to their performances.”

“Decades Rewind is the same thing — except on steroids!” Sandy jokes. “It features 120 tunes — not to mention over 100 costumes — and the songs are done in reverse order — ‘80s, ‘70s, and then ‘60s — which is great because even though we have very diverse audiences, everyone stays for the ‘60s!”

A veritable time machine of music, Decades Rewind is a show that audiences of a variety of ages can enjoy. As creator Peter Gatti explains, “People always say they experience three things at a Decades Rewind show: tears, memories, and fun.”

And that’s exactly what we witness at The Count Basie Theatre when the Decades Rewind traveling show made a stop in Red Bank, NJ on February 18, 2017.

An appropriate opening for the Count Basie Theatre’s Garden State crowd, Decade Rewind’s high-energy trip down melody lane opens with an ‘80’s song from a local legend — “Livin’ On a Prayer” by Jon Bon Jovi. The number is energetically performed by the 14-piece show group led by vocalist Wade Whiskey.

As the audience cheers, the band quickly segues into several other ‘80’s hits including Van Halen’s “Jump” and Katrina and the Waves’ “Walking on Sunshine, the audience singing along and waving their arms in the air each time vocalist Monica Cox sings, “And don’t it feel good?”

Continuing on with tunes like Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl,” Decades Rewind features singer J.K. Miller III on a rockin’ version of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” expertly accompanied by the Decades Rewind band featuring Peter Gatti on vintage keys and Jimmy Delisi on guitar.

The women take over the spotlight with a lively performance of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” — the audience cheerfully joining in on the famous “pat-pat clap” rhythm — before segueing into Pat Benatar’s “I Love Rock ’n’ Roll” and the Kee Kee Dee Band’s smash, “I Got the Music in Me,” putting vocalist Ashley Renee in the spotlight.

Telling the audience, “Thank you, Red Bank, for coming out tonight,” the cast members of Decades Rewind go on to explain some ground rules for this evening’s performance at the Count Basie.

“First, you need to have a great time!” they state.

“Second,” they add, “Decades Rewind is more than just a musical and it’s more than a concert. This is a PARTY! So stand up, sing, scream, dance — do whatever you want!”

And during lively versions of songs like Cindy Lauper’s ’80’s classic, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” members of the crowd do just that as they dance in the aisles and scream upon hearing songs like Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy.”

Slowing things down, vocalist Coya Jones performs a poignant version of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” accompaned by a gospel choir bedecked in golden robes.

“Did you have a good time in the ‘80s?,” cast members ask the audience, going on to announce, “Well, now our time machine is gonna bring us back to the ‘70s.”

At this point, the Decades Rewind show band performs a series of songs like Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love,” and Chicago’s “25 or 6 to 4” featuring the Decades Rewind horn section: Ryan Redden on saxophone, Patrick McKenzie on trumpet, and Derrick Harris on trombone.

Following Pat Benetar’s “Heartbreaker” and The Doobie Brothers’ “Long Train Runnin’,” vocalist Frank J. Edmondson III is featured on Dobie Gray’s “Drift Away.” Backup singers Ashley Renee and Monica Cox — along with the audience — sing along and sway to the lyrics, “Give me the beat boys and free my soul/I wanna get lost in your rock and roll and drift away.”

As a disco ball slips into view, the entire audience is on its feet to Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive,” several dancers up front, sashaying and pointing their fingers as they shake their hips. Moving on to hits like Earth Wind and Fire’s “September,” Donna Summer’s “Bad Girls” — the audience joining in on the “toot-toot, ah, beep-beep” lyric — and Patti LaBelle’s “Lady Marmalade,” the crowd joyfully sings along, notably on the song’s famous “Hey sister, go sister, soul sister, go sister” hook.

One of many highlights of tonight’s show is the Decade’s Rewind cast’s performance of ABBA’s “Dancing Queen,” a high-energy feel-good tune which brings the entire audience back in time to their younger selves, not to mention up on their feet dancing and “having the time of their lives.”

The group follows this up with a rousing version of Parliament’s “Give Up the Funk,” the audience movin’ and groovin’ to the funky beat, perfectly laid down by drummer Mark Blinkhorn, as singers Monica Cox, Frank J. Edmundson III, and Ashley Renee “tear the roof off the sucker!”

Next, J.K. Miller III is featured again on a funky version of Stevie Wonder’s classic Motown smash, “Superstition.”

Following a smokin’ version of The Commodore’s “Brick House,” the cast of Decades Rewind performs a stellar live version of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” guitars wailing, the drama and the theatrics of the song filling up the auditorium. In fact, the voices of the audience members nearly drown out the voices on the stage as they all energetically sing together in unison, “Nothing really matters, anyone can see/Nothing really matters/Nothing really matters to me.”

After a short intermission, Act II opens with 1960's-era tunes including Sly and the Family Stone’s “Dance to the Music,” Martha Reeves and the Vandella’s “Dancin’ in the Streets,” and Aretha Franklin’s “Respect.” The audience also smiles and bops along to Edmonson’s appealing rendition of Chubby Checker’s classic dance hit, “The Twist.”

Next up is a medley of Motown songs including Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard it Through the Grapevine,” The Four Tops’ “Reach Out I’ll Be There,” and The Temptations’ “My Girl.” This is followed by a medley of Beatles tunes including “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “Revolution,” and “Hey Jude.”

Members of the Decade Rewind band — notably Al Owen and Jimmy Delisi on guitars and Jeff Stoddard on bass —are also featured front and center on vintage 1960’s rockers including Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady.”

Guitarist Al Owen is even spotlighted as a lead vocalist on a charismatic rendition of “A Little Help From My Friends,” delighting the entire audience with his exhuberant portrayal of British singer Joe Cocker.

Going on to introduce songs from “The Summer of Love,” the Decades Rewind cast performs such psychedelic rockers as Jefferson Airplane’s “Somebody to Love” and Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart.” But for the grand finale, the Decades Rewind crew takes the audience even higher with their outstanding rendition of Hair’s “Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In” as they toss beaded necklaces and beach balls into the playful crowd.

The audience rewards the Decades Rewind singers and musicians with a well-deserved standing ovation and, one by one, the cast members take the stage to say goodnight.

Wade Whiskey not only thanks the audience for coming, but takes a moment to remind everyone of the sacrifice of our military veterans. Appropriately, Wade is the founder of Heart Strings for Heroes, a non-profit organization which provides free guitars to wounded members of the military in order to assist with their ongoing mental and physical therapy.

Calling the Count Basie audience, “the best crowd ever!” the remaining Decades Rewind cast members each take their moment in the spotlight to thank the audience, say goodnight, and express their hope to see everyone again in the future.

The audience reaction for this performance is exuberant!

Mickey from Bayonne calls Decades Rewind, “Great!” adding, “We need more shows like this!”

Lisa from Allenhurst calls it “A lot of fun!” thanks to its ability to “transport you back in time” with its “great selection of songs.”

Perhaps Robin from Manalapan, however, best captures the feeling of so many members of this Count Basie audience with three simple words regarding Decades Rewind’s backwards jaunt through pop music history:

“I LOVE IT!”

For more information on Decades Rewind — including upcoming tour dates — please go to www.decadesrewind.com. To find out about upcoming performances at The Count Basie Theatre — including Pat Benatar and Neil Gerardo on March 7, Saturday Night Fever, The Musical on March 30, and Glen Burnik’s Summer of Love concert on March 31 — please go to www.countbasietheatre.org. To learn more about Heart Strings for Heroes, please go to heartstringsforheroes.com.

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