Mom and dad,
I saw John Tesh last Saturday, and it was as painful as live music gets. Remember when Uncle Mike sang “Brick House” in a speedo at the Sweeney Summer Picnic? This was worse.
A tsk-tsk night for tepid Tesh
October 11, 2009, edition of The Buffalo News
Saturday, Oct. 10, marked the birthdays of David Lee Roth, Brett Favre and Ben Vereen.
This is the kind of information you used to be able to get from John Tesh. Now, after leaving his gig as co-host of “Entertainment Tonight” for a wildly successful career writing and performing dentist’s office music—or instrumental pop or new age, whatever you prefer— Tesh has found fame in yet another arena, as the host of a hugely popular syndicated radio show.
Called “Intelligence for Your Life Radio,” the show combines self-help talking points, fun facts and music, and judging by its success—it’s on 300 stations nationwide—a lot of people believe they aren’t intelligent enough, and that John Tesh is the man to make them smarter.
His concert Saturday night in Buffalo State College’s Rockwell Hall was a mix of his radio show schtick and music. It opened with some little self-help nuggets projected on a screen that said watching the news before work will make us more likely to have a bad day, and that hugging our kids will stimulate their brain cells and make them smarter.
Then, Tesh took the stage backed by a three-piece group of considerable ability. And they started off with a bang (at least considering the context of what was to follow). “Barcelona” brought Tesh’s sound closer to the realm of prog-rock, pairing classical piano flourishes with big guitar licks and lots of stops and starts.
This was followed by the solo piano instrumental “Heart of the Sunrise,” a song that could be described as “pretty,” only because it’s a softly played mash-up of major scales that ends with a big, high-octave trill. Tesh knows and loves this genre of playing, and I don’t, so it’s a bit unfair to criticize his style. All I’ll say is, what it possessed in accuracy, it lacked in nuance. This is fine for background music, but for something under a spotlight?
Tesh’s set continued, with some nicely delivered personal stories and pieces of intelligence for our lives. It’s no coincidence that the guy has found massive success in multiple mediums — he’s charming, deep-voiced and sure of himself, and knows how to work a crowd. One of his intelligence bits included a listing of things that are full of germs that we can’t avoid touching — e. g. hotel room remotes, restaurant menus, elevator buttons. How this is going to help me, I’m not sure.
After giving a really good tutorial on the fretless bass, explaining why it’s both a difficult and freeing instrument, Tesh played “Garden City,” another vanilla instrumental.
A few songs later, we were treated to “Trading My Sorrows,” an abysmal attempt at Springsteen-ish pop that perpetuates the stereotype that all Christian rock stinks. As Tesh sang, “Yes, Lord!” over and over again, and a hip-hop dancer did his robotic moves on the side of the stage, I must admit I was confused. Maybe if my parents had hugged me more. . . .