Concert Review: The Rascals Reunion: Capitol Theater- Portchester, New York

Once Upon A Dream is a multimedia / concert reuniting the original sixties Rascals line up. The show was put together & produced by Steve Van Zandt & his wife Maureen. It features a huge video back drop with an incredible video / light show put together brilliantly by Marc Brickman (the Wall / Paul McCartney).

The experience combined video footage showing the band telling their own individual stories of the Rascals history from its formation to their breakup. Other features included scenes of actors portraying the young Rascals, on the screen while playing out a particular story. This served as an intro to the next song performed by live the group on stage.

At other times the video featured pictures of the band in their heyday, vintage footage of the sixties events & an incredible psychedelic experience of colors & lights. I had seen Ronnie Spector do something similar this summer at City Winery but on a much smaller scale.

This show is more like the Broadway production of Jersey Boys except with the actual band performing! It is a great concept, hats off to Van Zandt for his great production. Hopefully this is a trend that will catch on in the concert scene.

In front of it all, the Rascals were the real show. They played an excellent concert, a fantastic performance with a video musical journey backdrop.

The Rascals led by Felix Cavaliere, an Italian /American from Pelham, New York who plays the organ & does most of the lead vocals. Cavaliere was the group's main song writer along with his writing partner Eddie Brigati. The band had no bass player, much like Ray Manzarek of the Doors, Cavaliere would play the bass notes on his organ.

With his original material, Cavaliere took the Rascals from being a top New York / New Jersey/ Long Island cover band, to one of the most successful American acts of the late sixties. The group had three number one singles, six top ten hits & twelve top forty hits from the period of 1965 to 1970.

Eddie Brigati (an Italian /American wise guy type from Garfield, New Jersey) also sings some lead vocals, plays tambourine & maracas.

Dino Danelli (another Italian /American street kid from Jersey City) is on drums & has been called one of rock's most unappreciated drummers. Besides the Rascals he has played with Little Steven & the Disciples as well as a young Jimi Hendrix & Lionel Hampton in the early sixties. Danelli was very impressive on the drums, as he did a real fine job.

Gene Cornish is the bands accomplished guitarist, originally from Ontario & the only non Italian in the band. The Rascals were joined on stage by Mark Prentice (bass & assistant musical producer) Mark Alexander (keyboards) & three backing vocalist (Angela Clemmons, Dennis Collins & Sharon Bryant).

It was the Opening night of a highly anticipated reunion which features six nights at the Capitol Theater in Portchester, New York.

History: The Capitol Theater originally opened in 1926, it eventually became a play house, movie house & in the sixties a rock venue. Traffic, Janis Joplin, Pink Floyd, the Grateful Dead all have performed at the Capitol.

The theater was then closed in 1976 & left to fall apart. It was revived in the early eighties for various events through the years & in Fall of 2012 it has reopened its doors for concerts. It is a good venue, with a lot of leg room, good size seats, a good sound system & pretty good views of the large stage.

The parking isn't as bad as I thought, I got a space on the street two blocks away but was there a few hours before the show. There are municipal lots around the theater as well. It is a busy town with a lot of traffic on its small streets at the rush hour. Portchester has become a bit trendy in a Westchester style, with a bunch of restaurants popping up in the last few years. Although off the beaten path, we ate at Batagli / Bastanavich's Tarry lodge which was excellent (pumpkin Ravioli & an awesome Osso Buco). All in all a good night out.

I admit, I am not the biggest Rascals fan it was more for my significant other & a chance to hang out with my lifelong friend; WFUV's Darren Devivo. They were all into it & I do love concerts so it was off to digging into the Rascals library. It's hard to remember how many songs these guys actually have that you know & are familiar with.

They have done an incredible job of recreating their music and the vocals were phenomenal. It was a much better show than I anticipated & it certainly made the crowd happy. There were some great psychedelic parts to the show, complete with music & visual effects on the video screen. I think that was my favorite parts since I am a huge fan of sixties psychedelic music, we need more of that in today's world!

Of course they brought the house to its feet with the big hits; Good Lovin, Groovin' I've Been Lonley Too Long & It's Beautiful Morning.

Before one of their biggest hits, Cavaliere noted how much prejudice there was geared toward his mother, being an Italian while living in Pelham, New York. He vowed from then on to never be prejudice against anyone & it became a strong point of the band on social issues. This led to the writing of one of the Rascals biggest songs: People Got To Be Free.

  Approximate Set List:

 The Rascals at the Capitol Theater (12/13/12)

It's Wonderful
I've Been Lonely Too Long
What Is the Reason
You Better Run
Carry Me Back
Slow Down (Beatles cover)
Mickeys Monkey
Turn On Your Love Light
Come On Up
Baby Lets Wait
Too Many Fish In The Sea
If You Knew
Hold On
I Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore
Good Lovin'
Love Is A Beautiful Thing
Do You Feel It
It's A Beautiful Morning
Find Somebody
A Girl Like You
It's Love
How Can I Be Sure
People Got To Be Free
A Ray of Hope


Anonymous said…
This was a great show. I saw the Rascals iat the Steel Pier in 1968, and at the Brendan Byrne Arena about 22 years ago, but this show far surpassed those earlier concerts. If you like the Rascals, you will love this show.
Unknown said…
Agree very much with your review. As to parking, there is more than you would think. There are two commuter lots that are emptying by the time you arrive for a show. One is just around the corner from the venue, but the other is huge and just a few blocks away on the second floor of the parking garage by the movie theaters. Free from 430PM to 4AM, so worries about getting towed.
Anonymous said…
BTW, Good Lovin' was a cover of a song by The Olympics.
Julianna said…
The best rock and roll show I've ever seen! Their voices and playing were incredible and the video added another dimension and filled in a lot of spaces in the collective knowledge of the bands history. But most of all, it was SO MUCH FUN!!!
nyroluvr said…
Went went to the Rascal's concert on opening night and it was great. I saw the band in 1968 t Mt Vernon High was my firt concert and I was hooked on music from that point on.

Dino plays the drums like a 20 yo and while Eddie's voice has lost its youthfullness, he really nailed it on songs like Baby Let's Wait.

Kudos to Little Steven for a brilliant production...No kudos for the lights though...which were often directed at the audience and were blinding.

All an all a great time with great music.
Anonymous said…
Overwhelmingly better than the sum of their parts. The Rascals were my favorite group of the sixties. Over the years, I have seen the reconstructed groups the New Rascals (with Gene and Dino) or Felix with a Rascals like band or even just by himself. Just of few months ago I saw and was lucky enough to meet Felix backstage where it was just him and a piano on stage. While he was most personable and even told me to keep an eye out for this show in December, his vocals were just not very good. The Dino and Gene version of the band with a Felix wannabe lead singer was OK but lacked the charasmatic front man. Unfortunately, over the years Eddie has been no where to be found. Putting the four of them on stage publicly for the first time in 40 years and backing them with true production value created an evening I will not soon forget. Thank you Maureen and Steve Van Zandt. Someone mentioned they saw them in 1968 at Mt Vernon HS...I was also at that show. I sat next to someone who like myself saw them very early on at the Barge on Long Island. This show transported me back to those times. With three more shows this week this is a must see opportunity for anyone even remotely a Rascals fan. Some of their dialogue at the end of the show gives hope that the four of them might play together again. That would sure be Groovin.
Charles said…
Great review. I saw the 14th and 22nd.....two of the best concerts I've seen this year.

I wrote out a setlist both nights.....matches yours except add "Away Away" after "Do You Feel It"....and "A Ray Of Hope" and a reprise of "People Got To Be Free" ended the set with "See" as the encore. (Maybe they changed it after opening night)
Anonymous said…
Loved the Rascals show and LOVE the NEW Capitol Theatre. I went back for a second Rascals show. My friends for a third. Parking is easy and all around and restaurants are reasonably priced! Need be I have parked for $7.00 in the train station which is 100 yards from the theater. Also took the train from NYC for one night! East ride.
Unknown said…
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