Bobby McFerrin Leaves Summerstage Crowd Happy
Bobby McFerrin was his usual buoyant and upbeat self during Central Park's SummerStage performance on Tuesday evening. The musicians were pumped despite the humidity and entertained the large crowd with an eclectic array of instruments-from bass ukulele to mandolin, with plenty of percussion and acoustic strings.
But he disappointed fans, just a little, when he failed to include his beloved tune, "Don't Worry, Be Happy" as an encore when the two-hour concert ended. Puzzled voices were heard lamenting that his treasured tune was a no-show as they filed out. Nevertheless, what he had successfully delivered was a fine evening of music and humor, and the crowd swayed enthusiastically to the music in the aisles and on the ground.
SummerStage is a program of City Parks Foundation and presents free performances of outstanding artistic performers, serving the city's diversity.
McFerrin, a 10-time Grammy winner, was playful during the concert beneath puffy white clouds and air thick with humidity. The musicians performed music from his latest project, spirityouall, which embraces his rock, folk and blues roots. His improvisational touch was reflected when he needed juice for a battery and proceeded to sing his need to a tech who wandered onstage. The crowd lapped it up.
A pioneer of the beatbox movement, McFerrin garnered new fans over the decades with his infectious a capella and vocal gymnastics. His collaborations with Yo-Yo Ma, the Vienna Philharmonic and Chick Corea assure him a place in music's hall of fame and in the hearts of fans around the world. He sang masterfully, all upbeat sounds, tone and heart. Thumping on his chest, he engaged the audience with call and response phrases and moved seamlessly between wordless lines and sung lyrics.
A rousing rendition of, "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" engaged concertgoers who happily sang along. McFerrin threaded his way through the crowd, hugging children and touching fans. His bluesy lyrics were hopeful and upbeat. "We get closer and closer to peace, love and happiness," he sang. There were a few spiritual tunes, mixed with some faux operatics, scat singing and nonsense sounds. He threw in some Mickey Mouse lyrics" "Here I come, to save the day! That means that Mighty Mouse is on his way." Those of a certain age laughed.
Fans might have been a little disappointed not to have heard McFerrin's beloved classic, but they seemed to have forgiven him as they headed to Fifth Avenue, singing it themselves.