by Erinn Fortson
Last night the Colonial Theatre was full of fans, eagerly waiting for Billy Cobham to perform. When I talked to Cobham a few weeks ago, he told me that this would be his first time doing a show in Phoenixville. It seems like this town has been waiting a lifetime for this to happen, as a large, diverse crowd has traveled from neighboring locations to watch a legend take the stage. I only had to walk across the street since my apartment is feet away from the Colonial. As I approach the theatre’s booth to pick up my ticket, I can hear the gentlemen in front of me pleading for seats to tonight’s show. “I’m sorry we’re sold out”, says one of the theatre staff behind the counter. I hope these two guys found a way to watch the concert anyways.
Cobham’s opener was local musician Trevor Gordon Hall. He begins playing his set with what appears to be a tiny xylophone attached to his guitar. Hall later informs us that this musical accessory is called a kalimba, an instrument with African origins. So, naturally he calls the combination of these two devices a kalimbitar. Hall is brilliant with this unique instrument as he captivates the audience members with the sheer talent behind the creation of his musical pieces. His set consists of four songs and he ends his performance with a composition he especially arranged for his wife.
Billy Cobham and his band come out on stage to a theatre on its feet. Fans have contained their excitement long enough and it was time to voice their appreciation. Cobham was joined by Jerry Goodman, Dean Brown, Gary Husband, and Ric Fierabracci. The group jumped right into “Mushu Blues” as soon as all members had their instruments in hand. Each one of these musicians brought their own electrifying sound to the stage, which made the band as a whole sound absolutely incredible. It is truly amazing to watch Billy Cobham perform, not only because of his mastery drumming skills but because he gets so much pleasure from performing. He loves what he does and it was evident throughout his performance at the Colonial.
It isn’t difficult to determine why Billy Cobham selected the musicians that make up his Spectrum 40 band. Dean Brown blew the audience away at last night’s show with his guitar playing. Jerry Goodman sounds just as good on stage as he did 40 years ago, having played with Cobham in the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Gary Husband’s fingers effortlessly danced on his keyboard and Ric Fierabracci strummed his bass with attitude.
The seats at the Colonial are really close together. So, before Billy Cobham began his set, I decided to move to the outside of the aisle and stand throughout the performance. It was a better way for me to take pictures in the end anyway. After Cobham and the band finished up the show with “Red Baron”, I walked to the lobby and prepared to leave for home. I ran into one of the guys I was sitting beside during the concert and he said to me “Man, you missed the entire show!” I smiled and said, “Naaa, I saw everything. I was just standing on the other side of the theatre”.