The Blues Brothers set a high watermark for live entertainment.
A sold out crowd of nearly 2,300 fans resoundingly praised the Blues Brothers Legacy & The Blood tour as one of the best ever at the Wellmont, a high watermark considering Montclair, The Wellmont and Live Nation recently hosted back to back sold out performances by Fetty Wap and Salt-N-Pepa. While Fetty Wap, a Jersey-original, launched his national tour from the Wellmont and Salt-N-Pepa continued their amazing 31 year run both shows setting records and expectations high for the Greater tri-state area.
The Wellmont Theater, the region’s largest intimate venue at 2,300 seats, and its management and partners continue to dominate the live music scene with their newly renovated 1922 theater. Having just completed the multi-million dollar reinvestment in the structure – including state of the art sound, lights, security, safety, green-rooms and the all too important beverage delivery systems (They have five bars). The Wellmont has arrived, solidly earning the mantel as they go to location for every major tour performing in the United States bar none.
The Blues Brothers, Jim Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, on the Legacy & The Blood tour performed one of their final North American tour dates before heading overseas at the now legendary Wellmont Theater. While the Bluesmobile waited curbside in front of the venue, special guest Paul Shaffer took the stage early in the evening and added his now legendary persona to the evening. While Jim Belushi brought the “blood relative” element to the performance, he is in no way simply filling in for John alongside the living legend Dan Aykroyd.
Aykroyd and Belushi have forged a new element; the two truly enjoy performing for the fans and their energy and honesty is infectious feeding into a feedback loop that sweeps in the whole venue from fans to staff and crew. While Aykroyd is familiar, for many Jim Belushi is a welcome surprise. Belushi is an accomplished, singer, dancer, comedian, artist, band leader, philanthropist and entrepreneur but in this role he is best summed up as a performer, cheerleader and master of ceremonies.
Very early on Belushi called for a round of drinks for the band, summoning house bartender Ayden “Ike” Mirsamedsade to the stage who promptly returned with a round of beers and was genuinely, awestruck to share the stage, a toast and a momentary spotlight with the gregarious duo Belushi and Aykroyd, much to the resounding delight of the screaming house, thereby setting off the tone and general House-Party, anything goes atmosphere that would hold true the whole night through. Belushi left the stage several times to dance with fans, venturing deep into the venue. Belushi invited at first a single lady on stage to dance while he sang, then eight ladies for another song where each strutted her stuff in turn for the legendary blues men, and finally Belushi invited nearly fifty ladies on stage to sing, dance and strut their stuff for the band and fans alike culminating in a conga line that ended the show with Jim and Dan exiting Stage left with their signature fedoras held high.
Aykroyd did not disappoint and was 100 percent the Aykroyd we all had come to see and expect, true to his character. As Elwood Blues, he wailed on his signature harmonica and brought onstage antics, including high kicks, line marching and at one point Dan dispensed with the Fedora and raybans to adopt the persona of President Nixon bringing us all back to the famous SNL skit wherein Dan played Nixon and John Belushi played Henry Kissinger. All of which feed right into the collective familiar enthusiasm we all know and enjoyed.
If you have the opportunity to see the Blues Brothers on The Legacy & The Blood tour with a world class Blues ensemble backing them up do so, be sure to get tickets to the show otherwise you will regret missing them.
To view more photos of the concert by Photojournalist Scott Kennedy, please go to montclairdispatch.smugmug.com.