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CD Review:
- You Gotta Love That

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Neal McCoy
A Concert Review

October 25, 1996

The Star Plaza Theatre

Merrillville, IN

A Review and Photos by
The Dude on the Right
You gotta love that!
Have you ever been in a really lousy mood and then you hear a new song on the radio from someone you weren't really familiar with that just turns that frown upside-down, gives you a boost of instant energy, makes you think things aren't that bad, or at least forget them things for a little while? Well, one day I was in my car and that exact thing happened to me. The song - "You Gotta Love That." The singer - Neal McCoy.

As I was driving I made a quick u-turn and headed to the record store. I had to have the CD, and I got it. It was then I realized I had found a new, cool singer, that Neal guy, and eagerly awaited his coming to the Chicago area. He finally did, to the Star Plaza Theatre in Indiana, and yours truly was there.

In my show prep I had read that Neal was a great performer, full of energy, and a lot of fun. I guess I was a little skeptical - I've read enough press material that says one thing when the opposite is true. But from the start of "You Gotta Love That" I knew this was going to a really cool show. Little did I know at that time how cool it would be. And little did I remember all of the songs Neal McCoy is famous for. And little did I know how many notes I took at the show and now I have to put them all together for this little article.

Neal and the boys!
A Neal McCoy show isn't just a guy with a good voice hanging out behind a microphone and singing his hits. Nope, Neal mixes a little bit of comedy, a little bit of seriousness, and a lot of bit of fun into his hour and a half performance. It was after the second song that this really began to become apparent. There he was, up on stage, bustin' on little ol' Bryan White who opened up for him. Nothing bad, and all in fun, but it was plain to see that there wasn't anything that would be sacred this night. If Neal could poke fun at he would, and he did, between many of the hits that has made him one of country's hit-makers.

And his band was fun too. There was Senor McCoy working the ladies (oh, like he really needed to work them - I haven't seen that many roses since last year's Rose Bowl Parade, and Neal even said that someone must be making a killing selling those things. From every swoon in songs like the classic "My Girl" to "Kiss Me Each Morning," women were screaming, hell, one lady even tried to give him some jewelry, but I digress, back to the band) while his band, a talented group of dudes, were dancin' and making "ripping" noises as Neal bent over to grab his next rose. It was a great combination of great love songs, peppy fun songs, and a man who could probably be a stand-up comedian if he weren't such a damn good singer.

Another rose!
This night he busted on the "Marcarena" by commenting how any song that Gore (as in the Vice-President) can dance to he definitely doesn't want to learn because "that's about as white as a boy could get;" that night he questioned why these two guys who came up to the stage to shake his hand were bullied by security to go and sit down while the ladies were almost allowed to jump on stage with him; that night he pretended he was at a beauty pageant with all of the roses he had collected; that night Neal sang some Barry Manilow, the "Mandy" song to, oddly enough, a girl named Mandy who asked to dance with him; that night he became "Grand-Master Neal" as he did a rap version of the Beverly Hillbillies theme song; and that night he showed me that I'm really glad I was in that rotten mood that first time I heard "You Gotta Love That" because if I didn't I may have never become a Neal McCoy fan and would have never gone to see one of the better singers, one of the better bands, and one of the best shows I have been to in a while.

As I'm looking over my notes some more, I see I forgot to mention the band a little more. Well, Neal spotlighted them all in a "band-intro" set that for all intensive purposes was too long - that is if it wasn't for the fact this was probably one of the freshest band introductions I have seen - I guess that's really why I have to comment on it. See, I've been to many shows where the lead singer dude just goes "Give a hand for so-and-so on lead guitar," then the lead guitar dude jams a little, then it moves on usually taking too long and not adding too much to the show. Neal would have none of that. Nope, meeting the band was nearly as much fun as the rest of the show. Now, send me all of the hate mail you want because I didn't get these dudes names, but I will say they are a marvelously talented bunch. The guitar dude, who Neal said was 16 but I'm not sure I believe it, but in any case, he wailed. Then the fiddle player donned a little hat and started jammin' out some AC/DC and the drummer kicked in with some classic "Wipe-Out." Oh yea, that drummer dude can sing too, as was most heard on a great rendition of "For the Good Times." A few more intros with the "Chip 'n Dale" dancers and it was time for a full-blown band jam complete with a little "Stairway to Heaven" and "The Banana Boat Song."

Neal is one of those artists that has the radio hits but sometimes falls into that "I didn't know he sang that song" category. This I will guarantee, if you go see Neal McCoy in concert you will from then on know exactly who Neal McCoy is. It's TWO BIG OL' HONKIN' THUMBS UP for Neal and his band.

That's it for this one, I'm The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!