Last Saturday…

…at the Soboba Casino in San Jacinto CA., I caught the second leg of the “Davi in the Desert” tour.

OK, there’s no official “Davi in the Desert” tour, but Robert Davi followed his sold out, three show Vegas debut at the Venetian Showroom back in February (review here) with another amazing performance in the hot, hot desert east of LA.

Much the same and completely different…

Though the setlist was similar to the Venetian gig, and RD brought the same passion and performance flare to the stage at Soboba that he delivered in Vegas, “Davi in the Desert part 2” had a completely different feel to it.

More than just the difference in venue, the motif and style of the event was more “close-in” … more intimate and the resulting show felt like a different experience.

Unlike the beautiful, but more formal theater seating at the Venetian, AC’s Lounge at Soboba was set up with cabaret style table seating for about 60-70 VIPs up front and then 300+ chairs in an arch around the smallish stage.

The stage may have been small…

…but the 6-pack of musicians RD had in tow for this gig were stellar. The reduction to six from the 30+ piece band of “Davi Desert One” contributed to that intimate cabaret club feel, but the quality of the accompaniment did not drop off in the slightest.

In fact several of the principals from RD’s recording and full stage band were on hand last weekend — including music director/pianist (and occasional trumpeter) Randy Waldman, Sinatra’s touring vibe-man — the  incomparable Emil Richards, and the lovely and wonderfully talented bass of Ms. Anna Stadlman.

The six piece setup may have been forced on him by the size of the stage, but Robert actually thought it was very cool and talked about how 50 years ago this month Mr. Sinatra traveled the world with his six piece combo on a charity fund raising tour … RD — always the Sinatra Aficionado!

Offering some relief…

…from the tight real estate on stage, a set of stairs up front trailed down into the audience. Robert put the stairs to good use stepping out into the crowd on at least half a dozen numbers.

Never missing a beat or dropping a line, RD wandered amongst the tables and out into the chair seating to shake hands and toy with friends and the music industry/Hollywood luminaries sprinkled about the room.

Davi possesses a commanding, self assured presence; but it’s wrapped in an affable style that gives him an uncanny ability to connect with an audience.

Watching him work the room while belting out “Witchcraft” and the genuine affection on his face when encountering one of his friends … it was more than just fun to watch, I felt like I was plopped down in the middle of a private “RD and Friends” event.

Much the same … but different (part II)

Like I mentioned above, the set list was pretty close to the Vegas list but the combination of the cabaret setting, the 6-piece combo and his forays into the audience draped Robert’s Soboba renderings with more of a saloon ballad intimacy this time ’round.

Davi doled out 21 or 22 songs on the evening (I’ll try to decipher my “written in the dark” notes and list them below). All top-drawer numbers but the the standouts for me (the songs that were charted particularly well for the 6 piece band and intimate setting) start right up front with RD’s opener — Harold Arlen’s classic “I’ve Got The World On A String”.

Robert and the band mixed in wonderful cabaret versions of Gershwin’s “A Foggy Day” and Cy Coleman’s “Witchcraft”. Maybe it’s because the song lays so well for him and he always hit’s it out of the park, but RD seems to genuinely enjoy belting out Frank Loesser classic “Luck be a Lady” … and he nailed it again last Saturday.

On the other side of the tempo coin, you couldn’t select a better number for the saloon setting than the torch song “Angel Eyes”. Robert rolled into Earl Brent’s sweet, yet painful saloon song with a fresh “Jack and water” in hand … poured by Mr. Sinatra’s former manager no less! The schtick aside, RD just owned the room as he wandered amongst the tables, “Jack” in hand, delivering this mournful passion play of a song.

There were several “standing O’s” on the evening, but the one that was most memorable came after Robert sang “The House I Live In”. He set the song up well with a bit of back story on Frank’s fight against racism/anti-semitism … and then he blew the room away with a strong delivery of the number. RD performed this song at the Venetian gig back in February, but he killed with it last Saturday night — people jumped to their feet when he finished.

The actor and the poet…

Mr. Davi’s set list lands on all the major song writers … Gershwin, Sammy Cahn, Harold Arlen etc… and Robert delivers outstanding interpretations of their work across the board.  However, intentionally or otherwise I think RD brings a little something extra when he delves into Johnny Mercer’s material.

Maybe Robert Davi the actor melds with Mercer’s unique poetic story telling style … I don’t have a clue. All I know is Mr. Davi drove home simply awesome versions of “Come Rain Or Come Shine” (Arlen/Mercer) and the song I’ve come to think of as Robert Davi’s signature number — Johnny Mercer’s “Day In, Day Out”.

I don’t have the 6-piece band version from last Saturday to share, but give RD’s Davi Sings Sinatra – On The Road To Romance version a listen and tell me if you don’t hear that “something extra” he seems to save  just for  Mr. Mercer’s numbers.

“Day In, Day Out” [from Robert Davi, On The Road To Romance]*

Another great night in the desert with Robert Davi … Davi owns the desert night!

Set List  from Davi in the Desert — The Soboba Experience!  (I don’t think I got them all, but this is what I can glean from my cryptic notes) No Ratings this time … it was all good!:

  • “I Got The World On A String”
  • “Nice & Easy”
  • “At Long Last Love”
  • “Witchcraft”
  • “Day In, Day Out”
  • “Come Fly With Me”
  • “A Foggy Day”
  • “You Make Me Feel So Young”
  • “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”
  • “Just One Of Those Things”
  • “Come Rain Or Come Shine”
  • “Luck Be A Lady”
  • “Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out To Dry”
  • “That’s Life”
  • “Summer Wind” (more Mercer goodness)
  • “The House I Live In”
  • “Angel Eyes”
  • “The Best Is Yet To Come”
  • “Fly Me To The Moon”
  • “New York, New York” (encore)

[* Please remember that any/all songs streamed on this site are for REVIEW PURPOSES ONLY and are not intended as a substitute for the properly purchased original record company product. Give a listen and please support the artists via iTunes, Amazon or your favorite music store. Artists/Record Labels, NO DOWNLOADS ARE SUPPORTED; please contact me directly regarding the removal of any potentially infringing material.] 

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  • Susan

    Awesome show Mr. Davi… Thank you for a great evening.

    • vs_guy

      Thanks for stopping by the site bub! 😉

  • Dotandjohnfitz

    Was a wonderful Show! And a great close with best NY NY since FAS himself… Really enjoyed meeting and talking with Mr. Davi and Mr Sinatra’s manager Tony ‘O’…….

    • vs_guy

      Robert is a wonderful guy isn’t he … a real gentleman. Thanks for visiting the site!

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