Practice makes perfect. The brothers Gibb have been singing together for two thirds of their lives, almost as long as they've been brothers. The Bee Gees have spanned two decades of popular music, their style evolving from Beatles sound-alikes to lugubrious ballads to high-stepping disco.
Last night at the Capital Centre, the Bee Gees made it all look easy. They combined up-tempo, elastic rhythms with air-brushed melodies. And the blend of their voices was notable for finely synchronized phrasing as well as impeccable pitch and harmony. The Bee Gees' chemistry seemed more like alchemy.
The magic began before they even took the stage, a chrome-an-lucite structure of disco design with 300 lights and 48 speakers. The lights dimmed; the 13-member backup band came on stage; two minutes went by and the audience began to go bonkers. You could slice the anticipation with a knife.
From the moment the Bee Gees started their well-structured 20-song set, the fever raged. They opened with "Tragedy," a song off the current album, "Spirits Having Flown." With each successive song, another production feature was added -- laser beams, flashing lights, colored swivel lights suspended from the overhead frame, and more. The first section of the set climaxed with "Staying Alive."
The next section featured a medley of nine hits, most of them from the early, more melancholic Bee Gee catalogue, including "I Started a Joke" and "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart." (During the latter number a silver heart-shaped balloon floated up to the stage from somewhere in the back of the Capital Centre.)
The set then resumed its pace with complete versions of five songs, "Jive Talkin'" ending the set. "Jive Talkin'" was then reprised in the encore, and a final 15-minute extravaganza of "You Should Be Dancing" closed the show, very nearly bringing the house down with it.
The Bee Gees' music, while undeniably commercial, is also creative, credible, at times dazzling pop. From the looks of last night's concert, there's no question that the Bee Gees are having no problem stayin' alive after all these years.