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John Waite

South Orange Performing Arts Center

South Orange, NJ


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For the second time in just four months I recently had the pleasure of once again seeing one of rock’s legendary artists… John Waite. This time, however, there was no battling traffic, no standing in the venue and no photo restrictions which made this an even more enjoyable experience.

John Waite The show was at the South Orange Performing Arts Center in South Orange, NJ. South Orange!?! Yes… and let me start by saying the venue itself was an absolutely incredible venue to see a show in. Its intimate, just over 400 seat theater-style atmosphere was not only clean and inviting, but the sound was just absolutely superb as well. While it may not be that well known now, I sincerely hope this venue is able to attract more acts of this caliber in the future.

At any rate, my main job here isn’t to “plug” the venue…

Shortly after 8:00pm, John Waite, accompanied by his bassist/ manager Tim Hogan and long-time friend, guitarist Jimmy Leahey, took the stage. Much like when I saw these guys perform back in August, it was to be another acoustic performance… only this time due to the theater-like atmosphere, there were no crowds gathered in front of the stage, beer bottles on the floor or screaming, beer-swilling idiots. The crowd was very respectful and as each song began, other than his musical accompaniment, you could just about hear a pin drop allowing Waite’s one of a kind voice to resonate even more freely fully engulfing the auditorium.

Opening with his 1982 hit “Change” from his “Ignition LP, the now 52 year-old singer continued on with hit after hit after hit spanning over his over three decade career. As I said the first time I reviewed him, the thing that really amazes you about this guy is that even after all these years, his voice has definitely withstood the test of time and still sounds great to this day.

As the evening continued on, John and his band treated the crowd to other great tunes such as “In Dreams,” “NYC Girl,” “Whenever You Come Around,” “Downtown,” and the BAD ENGLISH classic “When I See You Smile”… taking short breaks every so often to re-tune, interact and joke with the audience. Now some people may consider “too” much crowd interaction or tuning onstage a bit unprofessional but in this intimate setting, it was like a breath of fresh air giving the experience a more personal touch as oppose to just going to a see a concert.John Waite

Other songs of note included the heart-felt “Bluebird Café,” of course his 1986 classic “Missing You” and an excellent rendition of “All Along The Watchtower” which sounded just phenomenal and was really an unexpected surprise. Then, songs like THE BABYS hits “Isn’t It Time” and “Head First” totally kicked the set up a notch and let me tell ya, I can’t say it enough about Jimmy Leahey. This guy can play some serious guitar and even acoustically just knocks your socks off!

Finally rounding off the evening were a few gems that aren’t as often a part of his normal set… “Lets Get Out of Here” from his tragically underrated “When You Were Mine” CD, a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Girl From The North Country” and another BABYS favorite, “Midnight Rendezvous.” Now this may have been the end of his set, but certainly not the end of the evening.

After the show, John, Tim and Jimmy all made their way to the front lobby where they actually took the time to sign autographs, take pictures and simply meet their fans. THIS actually impressed me more than the show itself because there unfortunately aren’t a whole Hell of a lot of performers out there that would do something like this… most of them are too busy hiding in their dressing room or trying to get to their tour bus as quickly as possible! It really gave me not only a whole new respect for John Waite the artist, but John Waite the person as well.

John Waite After everyone had gone, ROCKEYEZ’s own Brian Rademacher, who accompanied me this evening, and myself were invited back to the dressing room for a few quick photos and a short chat. At the time, this was “suppose” to be John’s last show in the U.S. for 2007. When I asked him how he ended up in Jersey for his last show, at first he just jokingly said, “It was the luck of the draw, really!” But more seriously he continued on to express his continued love of the New York/ New Jersey area and when he had the opportunity to play such an intimate performance, he couldn’t pass it up.

We continued to chat about what he was planning for the holidays this year and his plans for 2008. “I’m going to spend some time back in Nashville,” he said, “and hopefully be able to spend some of the holidays with my parents in Britain as well.” As far as 2008 goes, despite my best efforts, I couldn’t drag it out of him completely but he promised an announcement sometime in January of “something big!” and it had to do with something on the lines of a “rock band thing.” “BAD ENGLISH reunion?,” I asked. And he just looked at me and simply said, “No… BIGGER!” So if you’re a fan of John Waite, you definitely have that to chew on until the official announcement is made.

John Waite In closing, I had mentioned earlier that this was “supposed” to be his last performance in 2007. Well, apparently his “love of the area” is true because since then, John has added one more intimate performance at one of New York’s finest venues… B.B. Kings Blues Club in Manhattan on Thursday December 13th! So if you’re in the area, you definitely might want to check it out. For more information, click HERE… trust me, this is one performer you don’t want to miss.

    1. Change
    2. In Dreams
    3. All Along The Watchtower
    4. The Hard Way
    5. Whenever You Come Around
    6. Isn’t It Time?
    7. NYC Girl
    8. When I See You Smile
    9. The Bluebird Café
    10. Downtown
    11. Missing You
    12. Head First
    13. Lets Get Out Of Here
    14. Girl From The North Country
    15. Midnight Rendezvous


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