Peabo Bryson at Yoshi’s. Photo courtesy of Coleman Communications

CONCERT REVIEW — Peabo Bryson in Oakland

By Michael P Coleman

Peabo Bryson is, perhaps, the consummate living crooner. I say “possibly” because Johnny Mathis may be able to best him. I say “living” because Luther Vandross may have been able to out sing him.

Both are maybes. Suffice it to say that Bryson was always at or near the top of the list when discriminating pop and R & B fans discuss the genres’ best male vocalists.

Bryson has weathered his share of health problems in recent years, not the least of which was a series of mini strokes, followed by a heart attack that undoubtedly left his family, friends, and millions of fans worried. After all, the late Vandross never recovered from a stroke.

So, I pondered, can Bryson still take care of business behind the mic and on the stage? Less than five minutes into Bryson’s 90 minute show, I was almost shouting “yes” out loud. And you can’t beat the venue — Yoshi’s offers 300 of the best up-close-and-personal seats in the world.

After an opening song that was a cover of an Al Jarreau tune that I can’t name to save my life, Bryson demonstrated his almost undiminished vocal range and power with a rendition of my favorite of his solo hits, “If Ever You’re In My Arms Again.” It was, quite simply, perfect. The rest of the show followed suit, including hits like “Can You Stop The Rain,” “Feel The Fire,” “What You Won’t Do For Love,”and “Tonight I Celebrate My Love.”

Peabo Bryson at Yoshi’s. Photo courtesy of Michael P Coleman / Coleman Communications

Throughout the show, Bryson proved over and over again that, at 72 years old, he still has a few tricks up his well tailored sleeve. By way of example, what if I told you that he didn’t sing his biggest pop hit, “A Whole New World” from Disney’s Aladdin?

He didn’t. Lest you ask, it wasn’t because he didn’t have a suitable stand in for Regina Belle. One of his background singers out sung Celine Dion during “Beauty And The Beast.”

What if I told you that Bryson blew out a funky cover of Rufus & Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody” to close the show?

He did. The man made his mark singing heartfelt ballads, but clearly could have given Rick James a run for the funky money. Bryson also shocked fans with a killer cover of Sade’s “King Of Pain,” which is promised will be featured on his upcoming album.

Peabo Bryson at Yoshi’s. Photo courtesy of Coleman Communications

Most surprising, perhaps, was Bryson’s earnest display of his humanity. He’s got a heart that’s at least as big as his voice still is.

I referenced Vandross’ death at the beginning of this, and God knows we’ve lost so many other legends. With the bullet that Bryson dodged a view years ago, we’re lucky to still have him. Let’s give him his flowers while he’s still here. I’m told that he’ll be back in the area this holiday season for “The Colors Of Christmas,” and having gotten to know him a bit over the years, I think I can speak for him here:

Peabo Bryson would love to see you.

For info on upcoming shows at Yoshi’s — Freddie Jackson’s coming next month! — go to

For info on freelance writer Michael P Coleman, go to


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