Drummer and vocalist Peter Rivera, from the Motown band Rare Earth, performed a set of uplifting rock tunes Saturday night at the Bing Crosby Theater. He was joined onstage with the Celebrate orchestra, which consists of some of Spokane’s finest musicians. The evening was filled with joyous rhythms, nostalgia and plenty of fun crowd interaction.
The evening opened up with Vika & the Velvets, a young local band led by Olivia Vika. A blend of soulful blues and psychedelia, the band calls to mind ’90s alt rock, both in fashion and their unique lineup, which includes a saxophone instead of lead guitar.
The band demonstrated its versatility throughout its brief set, from bluesy rock tunes to psychedelic acoustic tracks. Several of the members were multi-instrumentalists, which made for some entertaining change-ups. The final track “Locket,” a dreamy, psychedelic song, called to mind Leonard Cohen in its drifting melody and surreal lyricism.
Afterward, Peter Rivera and the Celebrate orchestra took to the stage to open up his set with some Rare Earth classics like “Hey, Big Brother” and “Goodtime Sally.” Calling to mind the protest spirit of the Baby Boomer generation and youthful indiscretion, the crowd was lively and engaged with these nostalgic tracks.
The first section of the show was rounded out with a cover of Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say” before the four-piece horn section headed to the stage. This section was filled with primarily new love tunes, like “Everything You Do” and “I Really, Really Love You” written about various romances in Rivera’s life.
As the night went on, the crowd was treated to more Rare Earth hits, including “Born to Wander” and “Tobacco Road.” While the crowd remained seated for most of the evening, quite a few folks stood up to groove to “Tobacco Road,” one of the night’s heavier tracks.
Rivera, 77, was incredibly personable, handling the surprisingly rambunctious crowd banter quite well. Between songs, he was happy to reminisce about his time in Motown and expressed gratitude for being able to continue gracing the stage.
To round out the night with an encore, Rivera slowed things down a bit with a newer track titled “Ride the Wind,” which he wrote for his children. Then, naturally, the night concluded with Rare Earth’s joyous anthem “I Just Want to Celebrate.”
If you weren’t able to catch this show at the Bing, you missed out, but Rivera has big plans for expanding his orchestra in the future. He promised to return soon with a string section and more to fulfill his lifelong dream of playing in a huge, joyous band. For his large Spokane following, that’s certainly cause to celebrate.
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