The Last Concert (Eagle Records ER201722)
The Front Row Theater, Highland Heights, OH – December 4th, 1988
(55:52): Only the Lonely, Leah, Dream Baby, In Dreams, Mean Woman Blues, Candyman, Crying, Ooby Dooby, Go Go Go (Down the Line), It’s Over, Working for the Man, Lana, Oh Pretty Woman
Roy Orbison’s career was on a tremendous upswing when he passed away on December 6th, 1988. Orbison was acknowledged for his genius and contribution to the history of pop music several times in 1987 by being inducted into both the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame and Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
By late 1988 his popularity increased even more with the surprise hit Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 released in October 1988. His final live appearance was in The Front Row Theater on December 4th, two days before his passing. Some confusion exists about the location of Highland Heights (some websites say it’s by Cincinnati and others Dayton), but it is in fact by Cleveland in north eastern Ohio.
The recording in The Last Concert is a raw but clear soundboard tape which would never have been released except for its historic import. It was ooriginally released as a limited run via iTunes in 2008 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of his passing. Eagle Records have done a commendable job in preparing the tape for silver pressed CD with very nice (albeit austere) artwork and graphics.
Orbison is onstage for just under and hour and performs fourteen songs which include seven top-ten singles from throughout his career. The back up band begin the show, playing rockabilly phrases before he walks out applause and beginning “Only The Lonely.”
The sequencing of the songs is clever. “Dream Baby” and “In Dreams” form a little “dream” set. The latter was fresh in people’s minds at the time due to it’s unforgettable use in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet. “Ooby Dooby” Orbison calls his “first recording” and “Go Go Go (Down The Line)” the first song he’s written.
The show ends with “Pretty Women,” the biggest hit he enjoyed in his career. No material was included form the album he finished recording Mystery Girl and no Wilbury’s songs were played. The Last Concert stands as a fitting finale for Orbison’s live prowess and is worth having.