On tour for the first time in a decade, Helen Reddy, the ’70s star who had her own television show, played a harmless Thursday night show filled with standards, pretty ballads, and a few of her own hits at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall.
She may look her age at 71, but her voice sounded as it did in her 20s. She was careful not to oversing, and the band occasionally overpowered her, but for the most part her vocals were a pleasure.
The show opened slowly and low key, staying that way for most of the night. Reddy avoided her old tunes for most of it, as she’s known to do.
“This one will be familiar to some,” she said on the third tune. “No, it’s not that one,” she said, referring to her monster hit that everyone was waiting for.
Judging from the crowd’s reaction, no one was familiar with the tune, nor the next dozen-plus songs.
“You go, girl,” shouted a man from the audience early in the show.
“I’m doing my best, boy,” she replied.
The songs were fine, but the show could have used more hits in the first hour to inject enough energy to lift the room a little.
Backed by a four-man group, the sound was quintessential ’70s, fast or slow. The ballads moved like a Barry Manilow tune, appropriate for the whole family. Reddy has developed a nice jazzy inflection with her lines, and can carry a ballad with considerable skill.
She told us that for the last 10 years she was in Sydney, Australia, helping her 81-year-old half-sister.
“She took care of me when I was little.” Reddy said.
When Reddy sang at her sister’s 80th birthday party, she said she liked what she heard.
”I figured it was time to get back to work.”
Her Australian accent moved in and out during these stories, having spent so many years in the United States.
Reddy was born into a show business family, and she talked about her 50-year-old daughter and 15-year-old granddaughter.
Finally, 45 minutes into the show, she sang the first familiar tune, “Angie Baby,” one of her big hits. It was short, barely three minutes, but she and the band pushed a little and the night lifted a bit.
“Oh alright, it’s time,” she said reluctantly, 15 minutes later, launching into “Delta Dawn,” the polite showing some excitement. This turned out to be the beginning of a medley of her hits, moving into “That Ain’t No Way to Treat a Lady,” then “You and Me Against the World.”
Other songs she sang included “You Know Me” and “Loveliness,” both Paul Williams compositions, the “Birthday Song,” which felt like a wedding dance tune from a ’70s movie, and “Looks Like Love.” On this one, she used a light dance step to move her across the stage and back a few times.
She moved and carried herself well on stage, sitting on a stool between tunes to tell stories.
She recited the lyrics in full to “I Am Woman,” as a poem, with cheers after each line. This was a nice surprise and set her up nicely for her anthem. The song, of course, hit the mark and rounded out the night.
Reddy seems pleased to be on stage again, and still has a voice to entertain an older audience. There were no explosive moments Thursday night, but it offered an innocent slice of pop music that still holds up in Reddy’s hands.