Photo Credit: D. Sabella

If you’re lucky, a cabaret performance can change your perspective. And, having attended Bob O’Hare’s Unfinished Business… a Love Story at Don’t Tell Mama, I consider myself very lucky.

The first thing I noticed about O’Hare was his beautifully toneful voice. The voice itself has a smooth creamy, velvet sound, reminiscent of a golden age crooner. His phrasing and musicality support the lyric in an intimate way, as every phrase seems quietly spoken to the listener. The communication is direct and the feelings are palpable.

The second thing I noticed was the impeccable band, Tom Kirchmer on Bass, Peter Grant on drums, and led by Music Director, Tom Nelson, which supported this singer brilliantly. This show presented some of the most musically impressive sounds I’ve heard all season. And, O’Hare sat confidently, front and center of that sound, adding his own vocal color, which completed the tonal experience with great satisfaction.

O’Hare’s seated position on stage was the third thing I noticed. Not knowing this performer’s history, his spinal injury from a serious rooftop fall in 2009, I wondered at first, why this choice, to have him sit on a stool, for the entire program, front and center. But that wonder soon subsided, as my perspective was changed, and once again my ear turned to the remarkable sound coming out of this man, and his band.

I only mention O’Hare’s injury as a means to illustrate the great power that music has to change one’s perspective, and to create an asset from something that others might see as a deficit. Bob O’Hare’s voice moved me, even if he didn’t move much himself. The stillness of his countenance added a focus to the music, the likes of which any performer would be envious, and only a few can actually achieve.

O’Hare’s show seemed to take us through different aspects of a love story, the wonder of a first meeting, as expressed by My First Love Song (Bricusse, Newley), and I Met a Girl (Comden, Green), to the excitement of falling in love with songs like She Loves Me (Bock, Harnick), and I’ll Tell The Man In The Street (Rodgers, Hart), and the inevitable reality of disillusionment, Privacy (Carnelia), and My Own Space (Kander, Ebb).

Of particular note, in this very toneful show, was O’Hare’s rendition of You and I (Bricusse), and a lovely encore of Make Someone Happy (Comden, Green).

My only 2 criticisms of this show, made with an eye towards continued audience development, is that, 1 – with absolutely no patter in between songs, it was not the easiest journey to follow, and, a real and personal connection to his audience was hindered.  And 2 – given his limitations of movement, which are completely understandable, I would have liked to have seen a more formal presentation in terms of attire. A nice sport coat, would have gone a long way to make up for a pair of black high waisted pants, and a slouch in posture.

To be sure, however, every other aspect of O’Hare’s performance seemed to be meticulously crafted and well thought out (thanks, no doubt, to Director Eric Michael Gillett). And, the voice is certainly well worth hearing. Let’s hope this is not the only unfinished business this singer has to offer.