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Christopher Cross at the Café Carlyle

The 1980s pop singer simply hasn't mastered the art of cabaret. logo
Christopher Cross
The Café Carlyle struck gold when they booked Judy Collins. Hoping, perhaps, to recreate that kind of success by inviting another star with baby boomer nostalgic appeal, the famous nightclub tapped five-time Grammy winner and one-time Oscar winner Christopher Cross for a four-week engagement. But, alas, they did not strike gold. Not even silver.

After you've heard the three songs that Cross is most famous for, "Never Be The Same," "Sailing," and "Arthur's Theme," one sits back and listens to another eight or nine songs that mostly sound the same. With a few exceptions, the music -- while melodic and pretty -- doesn't vary very much from song to song. All his tunes are structured with the hook coming in the same place in every song, and the lyrics repeat over and over again until you feel as if you ought to go out and buy the poor fellow a thesaurus.

Even when the lyrics are different, they sound the same coming from Cross, who sings every tune in a high, almost ethereal style, looking straight ahead, his mouth right on the microphone, and never showing as much as half a thought on his face while singing.

It's a pleasure to report that he still sounds much like he did more than a quarter-of-a-century ago. The voice is clear, clean, light, and bright, and he's a wonderful musician. So are his two bandmembers, Andy Ezrin on piano and David Mann on keyboard/sax/flute.

Perhaps if you were sitting in front of him -- the only place he ever looked -- you might have felt a bit more engaged in his performance. Moreover, if his patter had been charming or funny, that might have helped matters, but he either informed us which of his albums the next song might be found on, or told us what the song he was going to sing was about. Clearly, cabaret is not his medium.

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