Cultural Arts Writer, Jewish Journal
Singer Debbie Taylor and her “Top Of The World” tribute band built on their second sold out concert in two consecutive years at Aventura Center on November 17th by offering the audience new Carpenters songs in addition to Taylor’s personal perspective on the origins of the Carpenters songs and their commercial appeal.
Possessed with a contralto range and low timbre similar to Karen Carpenter, Taylor wisely dispensed with wigs,costumes and gimmicks that other Carpenters tribute acts rely on and focused on creating a show that focused on performing the Carpenters songbook with their signature sound of layered harmonies combined with musicians who showcased their creativity on the drums, guitar, saxophone, trumpet, among other instruments.
Taylor and her eight-member “Top Of The World” band played the Carpenters hit songs, such as “A Song For You”, “Superstar”, “Top Of The World” and “Yesterday Once More” among more than twenty other songs with arrangements that provoked nostalgia and fervent applause in the two act, two hour show.
The band members also added their perspectives in reviving the Carpenters signature sound. Ross Goldman was memorable on saxophone in “A Song For You” and “This Masquerade”. Back up vocalist Diana Hernandez showcased her trumpet in “Close To You” and musical director Paul Stewart recreated the fuzz guitar sound of Carpenters guitarist Tony Peluso in “Goodbye To Love”.
A highlight of act one had Taylor team with musical director/guitarist Paul Stewart in a contemporary interpretation of “I Need To Be In Love” stripped of a multi-layered sound that made Taylor’s interpretation more soulful and heartfelt to the lyrics, especially because Karen Carpenter had an ill-fated marriage that would lead to her death within two years of recording “I Need To Be In Love”.
Taylor ushered in act two with “We’ve Only Just Begun” and “For All We Know”. The second act was highlighted in the second act with her personal interpretation of “Bless The Beasts & The Children”. Offstage, Taylor engages in weekly pet therapy sessions with young children who are seriously ill with her dog Cash and the audience saw pictures of the many children she works with during the performance of the song.
The Aventura Center audience was also treated to two additional Carpenters songs “Merry Christmas Darling” and “Only Yesterday” that were not in the 2017 show..
Taylor herself is charismatic in sharing the Carpenters back stories, sounds most like Karen Carpenter in “Close To You” and “Rainy Days and Mondays” and has a glamorous stage presence that impressed both the audience and her agent who has booked Taylor and “Top Of The World” for shows in 2019 on tour in the United States.
For those who missed Taylor and “Top Of The World” perform their tribute to The Carpenters, they will be performing again on November 23 and 24 at the Wick Theatre in Boca Raton.