Until the folks at the Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant announced that Little Anthony and the Imperials would be performing two shows last night and again tonight at 7:00 and 9:00 pm, I had no idea that Little Anthony was still in circulation. The guy had his first hit as a teenager in 1958 before he hit it big with “Going Out of My Head,” “I’m on the Outside (Looking In),” and “Hurts So Bad” in the sixties. He’s old enough to have performed in one of Alan Freed’s shows. Indeed, Freed allegedly dubbed him “Little.”
Not only is Anthony Gourdine still around, he still has the pipes that imprinted those songs on our memories. (So do two of the three original Imperials, who performed with him last night.) The hits now come embedded in nightclub shtick — Anthony kept referring to “downtown Minnesota” in his patter last night — and accompanied by a surprising (alright, bizarre) choice of cover songs. Anthony declared “Hurts So Bad” his favorite and “Going Out of My Head” the kind of song that only comes along once every 20 or 30 years (as he does in the video below). He didn’t get an argument from anyone in the audience last night.
Despite the brevity of the show — it touched down one hour after liftoff — the audience at the Dakota was wilder than I have ever seen it. Star Tribune rock critic Jon Bream concurs. Bream notes: “Everyone left the Dakota Jazz Club with a smile Wednesday night thanks to Little Anthony and the Imperials.” We got a full serving of what we had come for.
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