The Hitman returned to Lancaster, PA with wife Katharine McPhee after rescheduling three times
David Foster. His is a name everyone knows. They just might know why they know it. For a large swath of generations, Foster is the artist behind the soundtrack to their lives. A writer and producer, as well as gifted pianist, Foster’s many talents were on display last night (Sun, May 15th) at American Music Theater in Lancaster, PA.
A video introduction at the beginning offered a parade of the artists with whom Foster worked in some capacity. It noted that the albums he has been involved with have sold half a billion units, proving he is the man with a golden ear.
Taking the stage at 7:31 pm, Foster opened with the love theme from St. Elmo’s Place, and followed it immediately with another Elmo’s offering, “St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion.)” For this, he brought out singer Daniel Emmet. Emmet’s voice reached the rafters on this and “You Raise Me Up.” At 29 years old, he is already an accomplished touring vocalist and has a headline future ahead of him.
Throughout the night, Foster shared the stories behind leaving his imprint on popular music. “Man in Motion” was inspired by Rick Hansen, a Canadian Paralympian who drove his wheelchair all over the world. “Power of Love” was inspired by his protégé Celine Dion’s love for Barbara Streisand. And of course, the magic music man turned it into a duet between a fan and her idol, while of course taking it to the top of the charts.
Several surprise video guests joined An Intimate Evening with David Foster. There was Andrea Bocelli, Kenny G, and more. But his real-life wife, American Idol finalist Katharine McPhee, joined Foster on stage during the show. Duetting with erstwhile Celine interpreter Pia Toscano on “Power of Love,” McPhee shined herself on “Singin’ in the Rain.” The latter is the song that she, dressed as an ice cream cone, and Foster, dressed as a Banana, sang in the finals of Fox’s smash hit The Masked Singer. The Banana Split did not win.
In fact, parodying Fosters’ penchant for losing as much as he wins was a theme of the night. McPhee delivered renditions of The Bodyguard’s “I Will Always Love You” and “The Prayer,” while Ms. Toscano joined on “The Prayer” and “I Have Nothing.” All three were nominated for Oscars.
For as much as David Foster is, indeed, the “Hitman,” he went remarkably out of his way to make the show not about himself. Featuring McPhee, Toscano, and Emmet, Foster played background piano man to many of his hits. “God does not give with two hands,” he joked. “I have plenty, but a voice I do not.”
Ever a charmer, Foster offered four audience members the chance of a lifetime: to be “produced” by the multi-Grammy winner himself. Three of the four had perfect voices and synced up perfectly with David’s accompaniment. One gentlemen, Rich, a songwriter from Nashville, earned the loudest ovation of the night and numerous references from Foster. This includes being serenaded by McPhee on “Redneck Woman,” a nod to her time on the undeservedly ill-fated Netflix sitcom Country Comfort.
In the end, Foster boiled it down to himself and a piano to perform “Love,” off an album of instrumentals produced during his time off the road in 2020. The number proved that sometimes the simplest things really are the most beautiful.
Producers and writers are as much artists as singers and musicians. This is evident when one sees David Foster. To attend his concert is to go on an egoless journey through the important history of American popular music by the man who shaped its modern era.