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Eagle-Eye Cherry (Sweden)
Hard Rock Cafe 
Icing on the Cake
By Ryan Macalino
I recall the early days when I was learning to play guitar, and the song “Save Tonight” was one of the first that my friends taught me. It was simple, catchy, happy, and best of all, girls just loved it…

Flash forward 6 years later, and upon seeing the Culture Picks section on this site and the subsequent press that came soon after, I just couldn’t pass the opportunity to cover this event. Just imagine the excitement I felt when I opened up the invitation – and discovered that I had a VIP pass – for a celebration where the guest of honor was one of my early guitar idols!

Upon our arrival, it would appear that the star of the night was actually not Eagle-Eye Cherry, but the venue itself. In the glitzy celebration which marked the 1st anniversary of the Hard Rock Caf? here in Moscow, good ol’ EEC was merely icing on the cake. Regardless, the good people of Hard Rock went all out: beautiful and friendly staff, balloons, ice sculptures, and free champagne and cocktails were a sight to see.

The atmosphere was wonderful, and the crowd was a great mix of sponsors, socialites, and people who were ‘just there for the music’. In fact, probably the biggest fan that night was one of the servers, moving from table to table selling flowers, not missing a single word in her lip-singing. Regardless, the unusual mix of people, Russian and Expat alike, made for a wonderful vibe that lasted for the whole night. And with all the merriment going on, it felt like a nice, tall ice-cream sundae…

With a Cherry on Top

This was an event mainly designed for the privileged, a way for them to get together, unwind, and maybe recapture the spirit and vibrancy of their youth. And in this regard, maybe EEC could be looked at as the poster boy. One can also take this literally of course, as he’s remained virtually unchanged in appearance since peaking in the Billboards of 1998.

The event was heavily covered by the media, and even some famous Russian celebrities were on hand. In what was to fill up EEC’s hour-and-a-half delay, many of these personalities took their turns on stage, representing TV, media, and popular music. Even the Managing Partner took to the stage, ending his turn with some visionary words: “Let’s all have a f*ckin’ great time everybody!”

Once Eagle-Eye Cherry and Co. went up, the atmosphere went from festive to electrifying. The dude was ready to rock, really feeding off the crowd’s vibe. Only pausing to change guitars, he progressed through each song with the same confident, radio-pop sound. Criticisms could be leveled at this guy for his fragile voice and simplistic rhythms, but he sure knew how to work a crowd. His easy-alternative style hit the mark with “Falling in Love Again”, as the song’s cheesy goodness was food for fans. To compensate for his vocal shortcomings, he performed “Don’t Give Up”, a slow-tempo rock anthem that had him playing off his band with great effect; so-so vocals, great backup.

Save Tonight

EEC’s stage magic hit its peak with this song, the obvious choice for a finale. This was where he took the night back, establishing himself as the true star of the show. At no time was the crowd louder and more animated, with many (including yours truly) happily singing on. Maybe it was the overall energy of this song, but EEC really gave it all he could. This was his baby, his claim to fame, his opus! The song was the climax, and I was reminded of my memories of practicing, listening to the CD with the track on repeat… And there in front of me was the man himself: Eagle-Eye Cherry, playing “Save Tonight” in all its humble 3-chord majesty! It was awe-inspiring.

Feeling drained yet wanting more, I joined the crowd’s ovation and pleas for an encore. The band was happy to oblige, finally ending with the rhetorical crowd-pleaser, “Are You Still Having Fun?” Just before heading backstage, EEC was eager to show his gratitude, taking bows and expressing his appreciation for the fans, repeatedly saying “I love you Moscow!” From beginning to end, the crowd loved him back.

Descending down the stairs of Hard Rock Caf? Moscow, I saw the “Happy 1st Birthday” ice sculptures remain strangely intact, seemingly unaffected by the heat and electricity of the party above. However, the event overall was a great success, if the sudden disappearance of event posters were of any indication. That very familiar song was still playing in my mind as I waved to the staff and thanked them before exiting… The people of Hard Rock and Eagle-Eye Cherry gave us all a night to remember.

13.10.04
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