Robert Palmer

Live at the Apollo

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Robert Palmer concluded six months of touring (most of it in North America, with one month in Japan) in 2000 with the December 15 date at Harlem's famed Apollo Theater recorded for this album. Fronting a six-piece band and accompanied by backup singer B.J. Nelson, he performed a set heavy on his hit material from the second half of the 1980s -- starting with the Power Station's "Some Like It Hot" and including his own most popular songs "Addicted to Love," "I Didn't Mean to Turn You On," and "Simply Irresistible." Anyone hoping for earlier tunes had to be satisfied with three items from 1980's Clues, the near-title track "Looking for Clues," "Woke Up Laughing," and the influential "Johnny & Mary," which, Palmer said, "was a big hit for me in Guatemala, believe it or not." Otherwise, the non-single selections mostly came from the million-sellers Riptide (1985) and Heavy Nova (1988), with nothing at all from less-popular later albums Don't Explain (1990), Ridin' High (1992), and Honey (1994). In other words, this was a set that took no risks, and the efficient band played it in an equally risk-free manner. The large fan base Palmer had picked up in the mid-'80s had reason to be satisfied, but anyone who had known the singer during his earlier, more exploratory period, or after he had returned to trying different things in the '90s, would be disappointed. At this point in his career, having left major-label status behind some years back, Palmer seemed to be playing to his commercial strengths on this tour, but, like the music that gave him his biggest hits, the results could be bloodless and mechanical.

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