LYNN — The flower power ’60s came alive Saturday night, as a near-capacity crowd packed Lynn Auditorium to journey back to the young and innocent days when 45 rpm records ruled.
The groovy Happy Together Tour — named after The Turtles’ hit single — brings together six acts from the era when pop music thrilled and took our minds off of the raging war in Vietnam.
Backed by the same four-piece touring band, The Turtles, Chuck Negron (Three Dog Night), Gary Puckett (the Union Gap), The Association, Mark Lindsay (Paul Revere and the Raiders) and The Cowsills each performed short sets of their best-loved tunes.
It’s likely that most of the songs performed were in the record collections of audience members.
The Cowsills opened the night with a terrific set of their harmony-rich pop hits from the Summer of Love. Brothers Bob and Paul and sister Susan, a relative pup at age 59, thrilled with silly banter and lively versions of “The Rain, The Park & Other Things,” “Indian Lake” and the theme of TV’s “Love American Style.” The Newport, R.I., natives were in great voice during their bubblegum pop take on “Hair” from the Broadway hit musical, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
Mark Lindsay, the voice of Paul Revere and the Raiders, hampered a bit by a poor sound mix, wowed with upbeat versions of hits “Where the Action Is,” “Hungry,” “Indian Reservation” and his 1970 solo smash “Arizona.” The 76-year-old Oregon native donned a silver lamé jacket and Poindexter glasses for much of the set, switching to a Revolutionary War-style coat like band members wore during the British Invasion-aping “Kicks.”
The too-short set by The Association was a highlight. Musical partners of 53 years Jim Yester and Gary “Jules” Alexander, and Del Ramos, the “new guy” who joined in 1972, performed only four songs but all were keepers: “Windy,” “Never My Love,” “Along Came Mary” and “Cherish,” to which the crowd sang along loudly.
Gary Puckett, a lean and youthful 75, wore a Civil War cloak like the getup his Union Gap sported back in the days when their pop ballads were ubiquitous on AM radio.
Despite fighting a cold, Puckett was in splendid, strong voice for “Lady Willpower,” “Over You,” “This Girl is a Woman Now,” “Young Girl” and “Woman Woman,” the hit that featured Puckett’s voice, sold 16 million copies and had Glen Campbell’s Wrecking Crew as backing band.
Chuck Negron, the heartthrob dark-haired, mustachioed one in Three Dog Night, then the world’s biggest act in pop music, also displayed strong vocal chops, alternating between his trademark raspy growl and falsetto. The band members added backing vocals, subbing for TDN’s three-singer lineup, and the audience helped out, singing along to classic pop hits “Celebrate,” Randy Newman’s “Mama Told Me Not to Come,” Laura Nyro’s “Eli’s Coming,” Harry Nilsson’s “One (Is the Loneliest Number)” and Hoyt Axton’s “Joy to the World.” It’s easy to forget that Three Dog Night introduced the world to the music of some remarkable songwriters.
The Turtles were headliners, with sole original member Mark Volman serving as amiable host/comedic foil. His musical partner Howard Kaylan bowed out of the tour due to health issues, but Ron Dante, a little-known but major player in popular music (he sang The Archies’ “Sugar Sugar,” The Cufflinks’ “Tracy” and produced Barry Manilow’s first nine albums) more than ably stepped in.
Turtles’ hits “She’d Rather Be With Me,” “You Baby” and the early Bob Dylan song “It Ain’t Me Babe” sounded great.
Rousing versions of “Eleanor” and “Happy Together” were swell.
Volman amusingly fibbed about falling off the stage at the former Jonathan Swift’s club in Cambridge and then claimed ownership of “Riders on the Storm,” which he said he’d written in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.
The Turtles’ set also included a Frank Zappa song, “Peaches en Regalia”; Volman and Kaylan, as Flo and Eddie, briefly sang with the Mothers of Invention in the early ’70s.
Happy Together 2018 was a splendid nostalgia trip.