Benny Mardones would have had a blast.
Back it up a minute. Somewhere up above, the rocker who left us in June 2020 surely did soar along with the full house at the Palace Theatre in Syracuse Saturday night during every second of Bless a Brand New Angel: A Tribute to Benny Mardones.
There was so much heart in the night, just perfect for the man who put it out there every time he took the stage in his adopted home town of Syracuse in so many performances from 1980 until he lost his battle to complications from Parkinson’s.
Frank Malfitano was the perfect host, spinning stories of his theater-manager-to-performer relationship with Mardones that of course went so much deeper. That’s the way it went in the precious moments of life shared with Mardones. When he opened his mind and soul to you, out poured so much, for seconds, minutes, years, decades. Malfitano called to the stage and and handed the microphone to many so important Mardones who made it to the theater to memorialize the man.
Wife Jane touched us all with her sweet granddaughter, and we learned that Benny will forever rest in Syracuse upon her decision. She’s adopted us, too, it turns out.
Son Michael came back, a sight for joyful eyes, a solid man I recall seeing beaming on stage with his dad when he was just a lad.
Sister Louise reminded us that Benny rests now next to Jesus, and she knows she will see him again.
Other important folks in Benny’s life spread around the country couldn’t make it, so producer Greg Ross delivered to us on the screen touching, heartfelt and, yes, humorous messages from co-writer Robert Tepper, record executive Tommy Nast and a song performed on piano from a former bandmate and co-writer from the the wayback in Woodstock.
Great clips, all.
And they led up to the true gold, the interviews with Mardones himself, telling moments explaining how he got to be the man everybody in the theater adored in singular ways.
Goosebump moments were many..
The Hurricanes were up to the herculean task of making everybody remember the power of Mardones’ music.
Guitarists Kevin Farrell and Pete LeVante, bassist Todd Troubetaris, keyboardist Andy Rudy and drummer John Mangicaro were so very solid. Kim Fetters carried the background vocals all night … except for her great lead turn on Promises in the Night. Levante stood out on his two lead vocal turns, too. But the bulk of the lead work fell to Jeff Gordon, and he absolutely soared taking Benny’s role on the great ones. The crowd danced and sang. A great time was had in the moment and by looking back over those many decades of a musical relationship. Neat trick, that.
I looked to the heavens. Pointed. Said my piece to Benny. Thank you, sir.
Enjoy the Hurricanes’ performance of Mardones’ song Heart in My Hand with a touching visual produced by Greg Ross behind them.