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Tuesday, September 7, 1993 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Ray Sounds Off, But It's Not What You'd Think

Concert review Ray Charles with T Gilas, at Bumbershoot (Seattle Coliseum), yesterday.

Just for starts, the Seattle Coliseum is not a place for a big band, especially if that band depends on nuance, subtly and the closeness between instrumentation and a singer's voice.

The Coliseum is barely the right place for a basketball game, let alone a concert by one of the finest vocalists the modern world has ever known.

So, it's understandable that a singer might cop an attitude if the balance and the the projection of his voice was off, that it, in fact, was buried by a tinny sideshow. Ray Charles had every reason to be upset at the sound in the Coliseum yesterday. It was too often horrific. It, in fact, croaked.

Not justified

However it did not justify his behavior, which was boorish and unprofessional. The Coliseum was hot, tired and stuffy enough without him making caustic remarks about his technicians, the orchestra and the sound in general. Was it a surprise that he was playing in a sporting arena? I doubt seriously anyone tried to convince him he was in the Opera House. He was not. He was in a sporting house, a spot where you try to sell, hot dogs and pennants. Get it Ray? Merchandizing

At one point I walked back to the sound board to see how the crew was taking what came across as an unfair amount of abuse. One guy turned to me and said "What gets me, is that I'm a LIGHTING MAN and everyone is yelling at me because they think the sound sucks! That's not fair!"

A point well taken.

Not a good day

By the fifth song, even after a truly splendid take on the classic "Georgia," the audience was walking. Even Charles' beautiful rendition of Paul McCartney's "Eleanor Rigby" wasn't enough to hold a good quarter of the house. Granted, artists are allowed to have bad days. But this is well beyond cranky. This was rude.

Things did admittedly smooth out as the afternoon rolled on. Charles did his old and new hits., and those of us that were there to hear them were glad we hung in. But really, I think all of us would have sooner seen him at Parker's. Charles needs to be in an intimate spot where he has greater control over his band, his techs and his audience.

And ultimately himself.

Copyright (c) 1993 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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