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Night of the Proms - Reviews

Posted on June 22, 2014

Small crowd soaks up big talents at Proms

By Frank Lockwood

There's apparently a musical time machine, and it touched down in North Little Rock on Friday night, transporting a Verizon Arena crowd back to the disco era.

For more than three hours, the concertgoers soaked up the sounds of Nile Rodgers, plus Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins and the Pointer Sisters.

These acts topped the Billboard charts and collected their share of Grammys in the 1970s and 1980s. On Friday, they proved that their talent hasn't faded.

During the central Arkansas stop, they sounded as good as ever. In fact, they sounded even better than they did in their heyday because the acts are now touring with a 60-piece orchestra and a 24-voice choir.

The show, Night of the Proms, combines pop and classical. Audiences hear Beethoven's Fifth Symphony and Chic's "Le Freak" at the same show. Strauss's "Blue Danube" and the Pointer Sisters' "Slow Hand."

You won't find a Golden Oldies station with that mix. It's an eclectic but enjoyable assortment -- there's even a little opera.

It's unclear if American audiences will embrace the concept. Europeans like it: Attendance at Night of the Proms concerts there has topped 9 million, organizers say.

The American version debuted in the Dallas suburbs Thursday and made its second stop in Arkansas. The tour, which headed to Kansas City on Saturday, is scheduled to wrap up in Omaha today.

There were plenty of empty seats in North Little Rock. But the people who went got their money's worth.

Friday's performance was captivating, in part, because the talent pool was so deep. Hits included Chic's "I Want Your Love," "Everybody Dance" and "Good Times." The Pointer Sisters reprised "Jump (For My Love)" and "I'm so Excited." Loggins played "Celebrate Me Home," "Footloose" and "Danger Zone."

McDonald sang some of his solo hits as well as tunes from his Doobie Brothers days. But he was best when he teamed with others -- teaming with Loggins to perform "This is It" and "What a Fool Believes"; joining forces with Ruth Pointer to sing "On My Own."

(The Pointers noted that their father had been an Arkansan.)

McDonald and Loggins have been friends for decades, and they clearly enjoyed Friday's collaboration.

The show closed with a rendition of "We Are Family" -- Rodgers produced the original recording by Sister Sledge.

Throughout the concert, audience members were encouraged to participate. Chic even invited dozens of fans to climb on stage and dance. When the event wrapped up, shortly after 11 p.m., Rodgers stuck around to shake hands with concertgoers and pose for their selfies.

Before heading back stage, Rodgers, a prostate cancer survivor, took time to visit with Fran Guthrie, an Arkadelphia woman who is currently undergoing cancer treatment. "What a great show," Guthrie said afterward. "I'm sorry more people didn't come here; this was amazing."

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