This Date in 1992: Bizarre, Loud, Wet, Worthwhile

How many folks can claim to have attended performances by all of these in their lives: Jimmy Buffett, Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine, Asia, Bee Gees, Whoopi Goldberg, Jon Secada, Paul Simon, Weird Al Yankovic, Julio Iglesias, Andy Garcia, Rosie O’Donnell, Michael Winslow (the “Man of a Thousand Voices” from Police Academy), Sinbad, Crosby/Stills/Nash, Celia Cruz, and Bobcat Goldthwait?

29 years ago tonight…

How about all those motley characters and more in one marathon show: the Hurricane Andrew benefit at Joe Robbie Stadium. That was a 10-hour run of performances from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. A cameo appearance onstage by TV meteorologist Bryan Norcross, who was a hero to many for his Andrew coverage, got a loud, emphatic standing ovation. The show also featured assorted sound-system cut-outs, an over-bass’d Secada briefly sounding like a hybrid of the Terminator and Incredible Hulk while in the middle of “Just Another Day without You”, and some distortion feedback about half the time Barry Gibb hit the high falsetto on “Staying Alive” to cap off their half-hour set.

Long equipment changes between acts and short sets got folks impatient and irritated early, until some of the headliners started playing and sound glitches declined. Then in the middle of Gloria’s long MSM set, a heavy warm-cloud rain shower drenched everybody who wasn’t beneath the upper deck, including folks like me on the field. Then it all resumed. [I had a seat about 15 rows before the stage, courtesy of gifts from the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce to journalists, including the woman to whom I was married at the time.] That was just part of the weirdest but perhaps most worthwhile show I’ve attended.

I was only there for Jimmy Buffett, and because it was free for us, save the effort to drive there, but the uniqueness of the experience made it highly worthwhile. Buffett was perfection on Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season (and of course Margaritaville), Gloria was as easy on eyes and ears as she’d ever be again, and Secada clearly proved a very talented performer onstage despite the glitch, and I’m surprised he didn’t have more big hits in his career. Weird Al should have been given a lot more time. The rest were tolerable, or good excuses to hit the latrine. Best: the show netted about $1.3 million for hurricane-recovery efforts. Nobody who was there will forget the experience, for better and worse!


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