Tribute shows to yesteryear acts — some long gone like the Carpenters and Elvis Presley, some still active such as Fleetwood Mac and Eagles — abound. Some are fun, as they tap into communal nostalgia. Most make you long for the originals.
Debbie Taylor’s Top of the World — A Carpenters Tribute, a Valentine to the ’70s easy listening brother and sister duo that is now making the rounds in South Florida, is that rarity: a tribute show that lets audiences feel what a prime-era Carpenters concert might have sounded like in the mid-70s, when late singer Karen Carpenter was still at her vocal peak. But this one transcends the source material.
Sunday night at Coral Gables’ Open Stage Club, Taylor, and her eight talented musicians, some of the finest on the South Florida circuit, were aided by the shrewd use of Richard Carpenter’s original arrangements — exquisite, detailed sound sculptures that layered multi-tracked pop vocals into sophisticated, jazzy rhythm tracks. Close your eyes at this show and you will feel the ache in Goodbye to Love, the joy in the infectious Top of the World and the feel-good familiarity of the Carpenters’ nostalgic anthem, Yesterday Once More. Every sha-la-la-la is in its place.