Last Night: Michael Bolton At Jones Hall

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Photos by Craig Hlavaty
Michael Bolton with the Houston Symphony
Jones Hall
September 8, 2010

It was a little over a year ago that Aftermath saw Yanni, and just a few months back that we saw Kenny G. Wednesday night we saw Michael Bolton, forming a power-trio of artists that you're not supposed to see willingly, or at least without the presence of an elderly family member.

One created a spectacle, the other is a consummate musician and the last has a voice that doesn't get any respect. Except from the aforementioned subset of oldsters.

While we are at it, Aftermath can now admit we no longer have a "cup of tea" when it comes to who and what we will cover. We threw that out on the middle of Highyway 71 while we booked it from South by Southwest to cover Justin Bieber at RodeoHouston.

Like the other two artists, we are all told at an early age that Michael Bolton sucks, and like the other two, creates a sort of pop-culture short-hand for said suckage. True, his David Koresh hairdo in the beginning didn't help matters for most people either.

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The fact is that Bolton has a solid damn voice, which can't be disputed. Just ask the 53 million people who own his albums. So if he sucks so bad, like Generation X has told our Generation Y for the past two decades, why is he playing Jones Hall and not a part of a jazz-brunch duo at a steakhouse in Oceanside, Calif.?

Bolton's voice was so sturdy Wednesday that during "How Can We Be Lovers," Aftermath kind of wondered what it would have been like it if he had been a power-metal singer. You know, like Bruce Dickinson or Ronnie James Dio.

We deduce that one genre blows out your voice and is paved with cocaine, while the other pays a lot better, you get to meet Luciano Pavarotti and you won't be wearing a codpiece at 57. And we may be a dumbass twentysomething, but swear to God, he sounds like Chris Cornell at times.

Backed by the Houston Symphony Orchestra and a seven-piece pop band, the newly anointed Dancing With The Stars contestant started his set with the Bee Gees' "To Love Somebody," playing an acoustic guitar on the Gibb-penned track before throwing it off for "Said I Loved You (But I Lied)."

That's about the time the Bolton that everyone is supposed to revile came out - the dramatic crooner, the one your mother listens to on cassette while cuddling in a bubble bath with lit candles. Deal with it, life is not going to get any less strange. He's Neil Diamond before irony and Quentin Tarantino.

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