CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Part spectacle, part futuristic light feat, part musical variety show, the B.E. Taylor Christmas concert graced the Municipal Auditorium stage for more than 2 hours Tuesday night. Playing to a large and boisterous crowd, they opened with "Angels We Have Heard on High" set to an African sound with a lot of electric guitar. With a Robert Palmer suit and Michael Bolton hair, it was hard to know what to expect from Taylor and his band but it seemed entertainment was their first and foremost goal.
Taylor and company delivered a smorgasbord of classic carols mixed with contemporary Christmas music, taking the audience on a tour of world music. Old favorites were modernized but enough of the show was true to tradition to please all ages. This was easily a show fit for the entire family. There was excitement and antics, emotion-filled classics and home-grown talent galore on the bill of fare.
Rick Witkowski, from Weirton, played to an enthusiastic group of fans toting a sign proclaiming "Rick's People." They, and everyone else, were more than happy to cheer on a West Virginia boy. He did not disappoint them by playing everything from the electric guitar, to the ukulele, to a rousing drum solo. He was definitely the man of the hour.
The light show added an exciting element to the evening with moving spots that coursed over the audience in time to the music, colored gels used to set the mood and a starlit backdrop added for ambience.
The highlight of the evening, though, had to be the local talent. Featuring the Appalachian Children's Choir, The Ferguson Baptist Church Choir and the Charleston Area All Star Drum Line, no musical genre was left unexplored. All of this local talent was impressive and entertaining but the All Star Drum Line was stunning. Comprised of kids from all the local high schools, they blew the crowd away with their precise rhythms and awe-inspiring sound.
Taylor and company also performed a fantastic version of "Go Tell it on the Mountain," lively and full of soul, just the way a spiritual should be with electric guitar and drums to give it a modern flare.
All in all, the B.E. Taylor show was lively and entertaining with a little something for everyone. It was an immense crowd-pleaser.