Judge Dennis Prince initially feared Cassidy's female drummer was a transgender incarnation of Jeremy Gelbwaks. He was mistaken.
Do you think you love him…still?
His has been the sort of life story that likely set the template for the likes of VH-1's Behind the Music televised tabloid trash-a-thons. Like so many precocious young performers of his day, David Cassidy has appeared as if he had it all yet has many times admitted he often felt he had nothing to live for. Despite the fact he became and is still recognized worldwide as a pop icon of the 1970s vis-à-vis his role as Keith Partridge of television's The Partridge Family, Cassidy felt constrained, controlled, and claustrophobic in his tightly-tailored teen idol outer wear. The truth is, Cassidy was (and is) an accomplished musician in his own right, never needful of the Partridge augmentation that enveloped him during the show's run from 1970 through 1974. Unexpectedly emerging as a credible performer (the Partridge producers never knew young David could actually sing when they cast him), Cassidy somehow juggled his TV duties with live solo performances and studio album releases sans the Partridge façade. For him, it was the music that mattered most and his need to express his own talents his own way usually collided with the wants and regulations of the Paramount Television image police. Add an estranged relationship with his father, actor Jack Cassidy—perhaps the one and only individual in young Cassidy's life whose withheld approval was most devastating—and it's a wonder this pop star is still alive to tell his story.
David Cassidy is alive and seems to love his life, fully and completely.
Despite his personal challenges, Cassidy managed to avoid a premature obituary, be it at the wheel of a careening vehicle or in a lonely final moment of despair. No, Cassidy's passion for music and performing for his fans kept him pressing on, releasing successful solo albums for the past several decades while gaining renewed acclaim and regard as a result of his stage appearances including 1983's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and 1987's Time, opposite Laurence Olivier. With the 1990s came the era of nostalgia for aging baby boomers, they who grew up with "I Think I Love You," Partridge Family lunchboxes, and all manner of dreamy David fan club paraphernalia. Probably most instrumental in Cassidy's re-embracing of his erstwhile teen idol status was VH-1, who gave Cassidy the host role in their 8-Track Flashback series and who regularly tapped the singer/actor for his anecdotal asides for the always-groovy I Love the 70s retrospectives. Today, he proclaims he's very comfortable "being David Cassidy" and stands confidently with an admirable amount of perspective and gratitude for all that he was, all that he has been, and all that he is now. Therefore, in a nod to his roots and in a reciprocal applause to his fans, here he is in David Cassidy Greatest Hits Live, a new DVD release that captures his performance at the Hammersmith Apollo in London during the last leg of his sold out 2004 UK tour.
The packed house is all grins as Cassidy swaggers and sways to the swooning entourage of female fans, some young, some old, and some in-between. He plays the front row like the skilled performer that he is, belting out tunes while just inches away from the adoring enclave, frequently reaching out to clasp hands with those lucky ones pressed up against the stage (and nearly toppling headlong into the crowd on a couple of occasions). Between songs, he often engages the crowd in banter and reminiscences, sometimes seeming to appear apologetic for having aged while still performing a equally aged set list of solo numbers, Partridge classics, and covers of time-tested tunes by the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, and, of course, the Association's "Cherish." Cassidy need not apologize, though, since the adoring crowd's love for this man appears not to have waned a bit since those halcyon days gone by. He's playful and even pleasantly unrehearsed in some moments, giving those in attendance the sense that they're sitting in with a guy who's just banging out songs in a somewhat informal setting. The musicians backing him are competent yet a bit uninteresting (Cassidy is the star here but it would be nice to see some personality in the band, too). His voice is as crisp and clear as ever although it might have dropped an octave over time. No matter, though, because it's clear he's still very committed to his performances and, whether his music suits your style or not, it's evident he believes in what he's doing, note for note. Not to drop numbers here but it's amazing how he's retained his pop idol charm and cheerful good looks at age 55. Undoubtedly, Cassidy fans will revel in each of this show's 26 heartfelt songs and intimate revelations sprinkled in along the way.
This new DVD from Kultur (under the SRO Entertainment imprint) is well-produced. It begins with a vibrant transfer, anamorphically enhanced for 16:9 displays. The image quality is crisp and consistent with excellent detail throughout. The color is rich and velvety and, although the brightly lit color-changing scrim behind the band appears ready to burst out of the screen at any time, it's thankfully free of the sort of compression artifacts that usually plague such a set piece. The audio is well represented in a Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix that provides a wide soundstage and clear rendition of the performance (although I found a bit of added bass made for a richer sound overall). There's also an extra feature on the disc; a short-but-sweet couch interview, inter-cut with concert footage, called "Being David Cassidy." Here, he reveals his deepest source of daily inspiration and gives clues about how much longer he'll tour.
David Cassidy Greatest Hits Live is a fun and friendly evening with an enduring performer. It's clear he doesn't take himself too seriously yet is very serious about his love for the music and the fans, both which have sustained his iconic presence for the past 30 years. Cheers to Cassidy for an honest and energetic performance and for the determination to never wind up in the "Where are they now?" hall of flame-outs.
Rock on, David!
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• Interview: Being David Cassidy
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