Tom Reardon – Both Sides Now, The Music of Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell
Feinstein’s at the Nikko, San Francisco, CA, March 18, 2016
Singing the material of either one of these songwriting legends is a daunting task, but attempting both in the same show might be exponentially difficult for an entire set. Reardon’s background in musical theater won’t help him much here – these two provide some of the most complex social commentaries of our time, not exactly Rodgers and Hart or Cole Porter material.
Reardon is a Barnum and Bailey type entertainer, more is more. He included three backup vocalists, slick choreography, slide show projections and two special guests. The combination of all this often muddled the intent of the evening- to highlight some incredible lyrical material, especially Mitchell’s very nuanced personal observations. Mitchell’s “Help Me” and “My Old Man” were overdone. Two ballads, with piano accompaniment only, met with mixed results; “The Last Time I Saw Richard” was a difficult and odd choice, while “A Case of You” was warm, subtle and heartfelt.
Local singer Melissa O’Keefe joined Reardon on Dylan’s ‘You’re a Big Girl Now” and she shines brightly. Reardon tore it up on Dylan’s “Maggie’s Farm” and the gospel-like “I Shall Be Released”. Dylan’s beautiful song of survival “Most of the Time” was the set highlight. Reardon is always himself, affable and charming. He had a ball serving up his interpretations of these two idols from his youth to the delight of the sold out audience.