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Michael Bolton’s “Greatest Hits and Holiday Favorites” LIVE! at MPAC

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Christmas is in the air inside Morristown, NJ’s stunning MPAC auditorium this Wednesday December 7, 2022 as music lovers ready themselves for a Greatest Hits and Holiday Favorites performance by singer/songwriter Michael Bolton.

The lights dim as pianist Brian Becvar, guitarist Ryan Parrino, bassist Nelson Braxton, drummer Drew McKeon, saxophonist Jason Peterson “JP” DeLaire, and vocalists Ashley Locheed and Chrissi Poland take their places on stage. Bell-like music rings out and lights illuminate the musicians as drums roll and Michael Bolton’s unmistakeable voice can be heard singing “Go the Distance” from the Walt Disney film, Hercules.

An announcer says, “Ladies and gentlemen, Michael Bolton!” and Bolton enters sporting a black velvet jacket. Launching into Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me,” Bolton plays guitar as he croons in his distinctive voice, “When the night has come and the land is dark,” and the audience joins in singing on the song’s well-known “Stand by me/Oh, stand by me” chorus.

Ryan Parrino wails on an electric guitar solo and Nelson Braxton rocks out on bass as Bolton and Co.’s soulful performance brings cheers and applause from the crowd.

“Thank you, New Jersey,” states Bolton as a fan calls out, “Hey, Michael! Since 2019, I’ve been waiting for this!” referring to the show being rescheduled twice due to the pandemic. Bolton gently replies, “Thank you for coming to see us and for supporting us,” before joking with the audience, “Make all the noise you can tonight without hurting yourself.”

Bolton stands center stage playing guitar on his rendition of The Bee Gees’ “To Love Somebody.” He invites the audience to join in with his backup singers on the song’s “You don’t know what it’s like” refrain as he vocally ad libs over top of them to avid cheers and applause.

A fan yells out “I love you!” and Bolton responds, “I love you, too. It’s so great to be back on the road in front of you. It’s indescribable.” Singing with feeling, Bolton impresses with his rendition of Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay,” making the song his own.

Parrino’s fingers fly on a guitar solo as the audience claps along and lights flash to the beat.

Bolton announces, “This is the time of the year for Christmas holiday classics,” as he and the band segue into a jazzy arrangement of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Bolton’s stylized vocal precedes a dynamic “JP” DeLaire sax interlude, and the crowd cheers at the end for Bolton as he holds out an exceedingly long note.

“Thank you, and Merry Christmas everyone,” says Bolton before launching into his slow rocker, “Said I Loved You… But I Lied,” on an arrangement which features pop synth keyboard, low rumbling bass, and four-part backup vocals. He follows up with a jazzy performance of Ray Charles’ “You Don’t Know Me,” and gets the audience clapping along on a big band arrangement of Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Life” which elicits enthusiastic cheers and applause.

Bolton introduces singer Chrissi Poland who exclaims, “Ain’t no crowd like a Jersey crowd!” before she and Bolton perform a duet version of “Silent Night.” Poland’s rich alto voice compliments Bolton’s skillful tenor as the duo sings around the melody on this Christmas classic. Bolton and Poland continue with a lovely interpretation of Bob Dylan’s “To Make You Feel My Love” featuring acoustic guitar, piano, and light percussion. The audience cheers at the end, prompting Bolton to joke, “I think I’ll become a singer.”

Referring to his next song as “a life-changing experience for me,” Bolton thanks the audience for making it go to #1 twice. Music lovers cheer as he begins “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You,” an original Bolton composition which was a 1983 hit for Laura Branigan as well as a 1989 hit for himself. Poland and Bolton hold their mics out so concertgoers can sing along on the “How am I supposed to live without you?” chorus, and Parrino plays a dynamic electric guitar solo. At the end, a fan shouts out, “Thank you, Michael!” to which Bolton replies, “We love what we do, but we are nothing without our fans.”

A highlight of tonight’s show is Bolton’s upbeat rendition of the Motown classic, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” where the arrangement rocks as it builds with driving drums and a rhythmic accompaniment.

Bolton takes leave of the stage and his band is featured on “Check Please,” a jazz/funk instrumental number which spotlights saxophonist “JP” DeLaire’s soulful sax playing, a Ryan Parrino electric guitar solo, Nelson Braxton’s funky slap bass, and a swirling Brian Becvar piano solo.

After Chrissi Poland handles the lead on a medley of two Michael Bolton hits, “Missing You Now” and “When I’m Back on My Feet Again,” Bolton returns to sing his 1991 #1 Percy Sledge remake, “When a Man Loves a Woman.” Heads nod in approval to Bolton’s irresistible performance as he sings directly to music lovers in the crowd.

Next, Bolton and Co. get concertgoers clapping along to the intro of Bolton’s 1989 hit, “How Can We Be Lovers?”

The crowd sings along with Bolton on the song’s catchy “How can we be lovers if we can’t be friends/How can we start over when the fighting never ends?” refrain of this well-known pop anthem.

Five-part vocals are featured on “Steel Bars,” a rocker written by Bolton and Bob Dylan, where Bolton’s back-up singers do synchronized dance moves under flashing lights. Then, Bolton and the band wrap up tonight’s show with an upbeat and swinging version of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” featuring Brian Becvar’s piano playing and Bolton’s jazzy lead vocal.

The audience cheers, and Bolton says, “Thank you, Morristown — lots of love and happy holidays to all of you.” He and the band exit the stage while the audience stands cheering for more. Bolton returns and thanks his crew prior to introducing his band members who help him perform an encore of his 1991 hit, “Time, Love, and Tenderness.”

Happy audience members groove to the irresistible soul coming from the stage by Bolton and his ensemble of talented musicians before they excitedly clamor, “One more!”

After a humble “Thank you,” Bolton and company perform tonight’s final encore, an interpretation of Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me.” The audience sings along with Bolton on the song’s “Lean on me/When you’re not strong” chorus on an appealing arrangement which concludes with a slow, soulful coda by Bolton which leaves music lovers cheering and applauding on their feet.

To learn more about Michael Bolton, please go to . For information on upcoming shows at MPAC in Morristown, NJ — including The Doo Wop Project on January 14; Shawn Colvin, Marc Cohn, and Sarah Jarosz on February 24; and Chaka Kahn on March 23 — please click on



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For the best in Jersey entertainment reviews, news, and interviews, keep it focused on Spotlight Central