Pure pop is music for the market-place. It is produced for mass audiences and aimed at widespread appeal. So is television. Neither folk nor fine art, pure pop is slick, safe and surrogate.
Tony Orlando's success on television as well as in the field of pop music is due to his finesse with mass audiences.
Saturday night at the Painters Mill Music Fair he worked his audience like a premier performer, exciting sympathy, support, participation and finally, adoration.
Dressed in a tight, white three-piece suit and looking a little heftier than in former days, he began his set with "I Go to Rio" and "Tie a Yellow Ribbon" - and that began the shower of yellow ribbons, flowers, gifts and kisses from the audience. In a show that lasted a little over an hour and a half, a good quarter was taken up with fans rushing on stage (Painters Mill is theater in the round) to get a picture, a kiss, a hug or whatever.
Orlando was more than supremely patient; he seemed to both enjoy and encourage this behavior. But it resulted in a fragmented, splintered show.
After a week's bout with the flu, Orlando's voice was hoarse and not as strong as usual. His tendency toward verbal patter before, during and after songs may have strained his voice further, while undercutting any possibility of artistic intensity; he rarely gave himself a chance for sustained vocal interpretation. It was entertainment in Sesame Street time segments, not art.
But his fans loved this sincere, sensitive ham, and judging by the number of kisses given out, as of this morning there should be at least 25 new cases of the flu.