By MIKE CHAIKEN
When Victor Micallef of The Tenors spoke to The Observer to promote the group’s upcoming Connecticut show, he explained the four man ensemble tries to take its audience on a musical journey via their performances. The purpose of the journey is to ease the stress of our every day lives.
And at The Bushnell in Hartford on Nov. 12, Victor and his fellow Tenors—Clifton Murray, Fraser Walters, and Remigio Pereira—achieved this with aplomb. The nearly three hour concert (with one intermission) took the audience on an ebb and flow of emotions, carried aloft by The Tenors’ outstanding vocals and harmonies—and their crackerjack back-up band.
The Tenors offer an intriguing mix of classical and pop music. This is expected from an ensemble with two classically trained vocalists and two vocalists at home in the realm of pop music.
Although classical and pop—especially in terms of vocals— would seem to be an adversarial relationship, the four men from Canada have found a way to meld the two without resorting to jarring transitions.
An example of their outstanding ability to mine the two genres – and their skill at keeping the audience engaged—was their medley of tunes performed by opera tenor Luciano Pavarotti and rock and roll pioneer Elvis Presley. Even they admitted it sounded like an odd combination… but they also said it could be tasty as chocolate and peanut butter. And they were right.
The transition from one legend to the other was seamless and the song selections played to the strengths of each member of The Tenors. You barely noticed when they left one artist and stopped at the other.
The group currently is promoting its latest album, “Under One Sky,” and a large segment of the set list drew from this release.
For me the most anticipated moment was their performance of their new single, “Who Wants To Live Forever,” which was originally performed by Queen. The Tenors opened the second half of the show with the song and they did a fabulous job recreating the vocals and harmonies on record. The song was offered with a dramatic flair that helped bring the emotions of the song even more alive.
Performing before an older crowd, The Tenors also had the audience in tears with the classic, “You Are So Beautiful,” which they performed with video footage of the members interacting with their mothers.
The Tenors also had the audience offering up a standing ovation for their performance of the church hymn, “How Great Thou Art,” which allowed them to share a story of how their love for music stemmed from their young days at worship services.
There were so many great moments—some classical, some traditional, some pop—it’s hard to single them out. Nearly every song brought the audience members to their feet with applause.
It truly was a musical journey that swept you away from the troubles of the world.
Besides the strong set list, The Tenors proved their skills as musicians. In the world of recorded music, it’s so easy to let technology tweak performances into overglossed nuggets. The Tenors, however, managed to achieve musical perfection live. And thank goodness that they have provided themselves with a sound system that allowed their vocals to shine through the amplification.
Also, I must note how personable The Tenors were. They engaged the audience as if they were all sitting in their living room. There was no sense of show business schmaltz in their between song patter. There was just a sense of friends gathering and having a sing-a-long.
The Tenors are already a sensation in Canada, having earned a Juno—the Canadian Grammy. They are building up their American audience with this tour. If you have a chance, pick up their latest album, “Under One Sky,” look out for their PBS special (CPTV was the sponsor at The Bushnell) or keep an eye out for other performance dates.
You won’t be disappointed.
I give The Tenors at The Bushnell on Nov. 12 four out of four stars.
Comments? Email mchaiken@BristolObserver.com.
PHOTOS by MIKE CHAIKEN