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Debbie Gibson – Hazel Ruby McQuain Park – Morgantown (A Concert REVIEW)

Debbie Gibson & Holly Forbes – Hazel Ruby McQuain Park – Morgantown, WV – June 23, 2023

When an entertainer has been on the road for 35 years, they are obviously doing something right. When you find out the latest tour is on an “encore” run, and the artist self-promotes and books the show herself, you know it’s going to be a treat.

And what a treat was bestowed on Morgantown, WV when Debbie Gibson brought “The Body Remembers Encore Tour” to the Ruby Amphitheater. The venue offers free shows throughout the summer and the seats were fully packed for the nearly two hours that Debbie Gibson was on the stage.

She opened the show with “One Step Closer” off her newest CD followed by her timeless hit from 35 years ago called “Electric Youth” which she did as a medley with “Feel It Still” from another CD of hers. She pulled out an electric guitar to cover the classic “Legs” and tied it in with another off the new CD called “LuvU2 Much.”

Gibson and her band and backup dancers/singers worked the stage from one end to another, both for emphasis and with choreography. The show was divided into sections with the first part seeing Gibson in a glittery short cream-colored dress. She sat down to tell the audience the 35th Anniversary of “Foolish Beat” was only days away, and then turned whimsical doing the title track to the new CD, The Body Remembers.

Showing a brief video made up of old VHS appearances from the early part of her career, while she and the band were offstage for a few minutes. The two male dancers of her group brought out an air mattress as the show shifted to a slumber party, complete with matching pajamas and the band surrounding Debbie to sing a few more from the new CD as well as a medley of her hits including “Shake Your Love,” “Out of the Blue and “Only In My Dreams.”

She went behind the piano to offer a slowed down version of the 1980’s classic “Fame” and then a tribute to Tina Turner to a song from the new CD called “Timeless.” You could see Debbie was into the performance as she told the band she was enjoying the piano so much that didn’t want to get up yet and was changing the setlist mid-show. The band never missed a beat as she launched into “Lost In Your Eyes.”

The male backup singers, dubbed the “bookend baldies” entertained for a few minutes as Gibson and band changed clothes again. Coming back out in a short red mini dress, Gibson started the third segment with “Love Don’t Care” from the new CD and then launched into a medley of hits from the band ABBA, turning this part into a giant sing along with the crowd.

Debbie interacted with her four dancers, for three rocking songs from the new CD, and rocking 15-minute end to the show as a light rain started to fall. She was gone only long enough to change clothes yet again, and emerge in a ruffled skirt, oversized blouse and hat that immediately turned the clock back to the first days of her career. She said she had never started her encore, “Cheers” in the audience and proceeded to find a spot where she could stand on a few seats and be seen.

The song speaks of reminiscing with old friends, and that is exactly what the previous two hours had been for everyone there that night. It was an incredible performance by a true professional entertainer who made a show designed for a theater or casino showroom work on an outdoor amphitheater stage. I can say without hesitation that Debbie Gibson is an act you must see live.

Opening the evening was The Voice alumni Holly Forbes. Working her way through a set of classic rock songs, her powerful voice was on display for songs such as “Valerie,” “The Way You Make Me Feel,” and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” Her soulful choices and stage presence was the perfect 50-minute lead in to the evening’s headliner.

Dave Parsons

Copyright ©2023 All rights reserved. Posted: June 25, 2023.

Photos by Dave Parsons © 2023. All rights reserved.


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