Almost a year to the day, John Waite returned to Orlando for another strong show at The Plaza Live in Orlando. He’s supporting his Rough and Tumble Tour with a strong band and this night, he was at his interactive best. It was clear early on that this was going to be a special night. The cozy crowd of a few hundred folks seemed to instantly put Waite into a story-telling mode and he shared quick snippets, chatting and joking with the crowd all night, seemingly having a blast throughout the sixteen song set. The sound at the cozy Plaza Live venue is just great, and was spot on for this show.
The setlist featured songs from all stages of Waite’s career as well as a few nice surprises. He kicked off the set with two rocking cuts off of the new album, "Rough and Tumble,” the title track and "Better Off Gone,” which featured a fantastic guitar solo from the uber-talented Shaun Hague. From there, Waite deftly navigated through his catalog as well as a few classics from past bands Bad English and The Baby’s.
It’s been 30 plus years since the heyday of The Baby’s, yet Waite’s under-rated voice is as good as ever, and he’s always pushing himself in new directions. For fans of that era, we got to hear "Back On My Feet Again,” featuring some phenomenal bass work from Philadelphia native and Dee Dee Ramone lookalike Tim Hogan. "Head First,” "Every Time I Think of You” and a stripped down version of "Isn’t It Time” were also on the set list. They were all decent and certainly crowd favorites, but on this night, the new stuff really shined.
"If You Ever Get Lonely” is a great love song just screaming for radio play and one of a handful on the new album co-written with Kyle Cook of Matchbox Twenty. ”Sweet Rhode Island Red” is a groovy Tina turner cover that conjures up nice memories of The Baby’s. We also had a chance to listen to two other covers, a smoking version of Dylan’s "All Along the Watchtower,” where Hogan, Hague and drummer Rhondo dominated the stage and then a cool version of Vince Gill’s "Whenever You Come Around.”
When Waite introduced the fantastic "Bluebird Cafe” he shared a poignant moment with the crowd, noting that after composing that track, it was the first time he actually considered himself to be a story-teller.
He finished the night up with four huge crowd favorites. A nice Rhondo drum solo melded into Waite’s biggest hit "Missing You,” followed with his biggest Baby’s hit "Head First” which had the crowd on its feet and singing along.
The crowd pulled Waite back out for an encore and a solo version of Bad English’s "When I See You Smile.” It was a great singalong version that again had everyone on their feet and in fine voice. His band mates then joined him for a powerful closing version of "Every Time I Think of You,” a great end to a great show.
I have to add that Waite did something almost unheard of these days after the show. He and Hogan stayed around on stage mixing with the fans, until they had signed articles for everybody waiting; a wonderful touch of class!
Rock On – Cretin!
Rough and Tumble
Better Off Gone
Back on My Feet Again
If You Ever Get Lonely
All Along the Watchtower (Bob Dylan cover)
Whenever You Come Around (Vince Gill cover)
Isn’t It Time
Sweet Rhode Island Red
When I see You Smile
Every Time I Think of You