Bee Gees tribute group set to visit The Stage at the Star

From left, Jack Leftley (Maurice), Paul Lines (Robin) and Matt Baldoni (Barry Gibb) perform as part of the Australian Bee Gees show. 
Courtesy photo

Imagine impersonating a legendary singer on stage every night as a way to make a living.

That’s not as easy as it sounds when the singer you’re re-creating is not only still alive but also possesses one of the great falsetto voices of all time: Barry Gibb.

Forty-year-old Matt Baldoni doesn’t take that for granted.

“One of the reasons I take care of myself as well as I do is because other musicians don’t,” he said. “I do not want to be one of those guys. My overhead is super low. I know gigs come and go, and I get to tour all over the world and make more money than I need — but it’s the music biz, man; it’s gonna come and go.”

The Bee Gees came and went, but their music stayed.

“(Barry Gibb) is difficult to nail as a performer; it’s a challenge that I can’t let go of,” Baldoni said. “I constantly revisit the material and (wonder), ‘How can I do the best to my ability?'”

“(The performance) is quite the athletic event, singing the Barry ‘chair’ in a full two-act show, with costume changes and all that,” Baldoni said, “(but) I take care of myself really well — I don’t drink, do drugs, don’t smoke — I lift weights and run hills every day and still this gig is hard. The guy is amazing; he was born with a gift that has literally changed the world — the gift is his voice.”

You can see him for yourself, along with the other “brothers Gibb,” at The Stage in Santa Ana Star Casino at 7 p.m. Friday. In other words, you’ll be able to catch “Saturday Night Fever” on Friday night with “The Australian Bee Gees Show — A Tribute to the Bee Gees.”

“I didn’t become a really rabid fanatic until I had to study Barry and study his legacy,” Baldoni said. “My mom was a fan and had ‘Saturday Night Live’ in her LP connection,” he said. “I sang in a Catholic choir as a kid. Then — and now — you could not listen to commercial radio without hearing at least one Bee Gees song a day.

“They were such huge hits, and when I figured out how to do this for a living, play music — at weddings, parties — the Bee Gees were such huge hits, you had to learn them,” he said. “I always respected them, but not disco itself till I was playing guitar in the ‘Mama Mia’ orchestra in Las Vegas; then I started digging into all the material of the era.”

The performers duplicate the famed trio’s clothes, style and moves — and memorable harmonies — to showcase five decades of the brothers’ success as rock and disco legends.

Tickets at The Stage are $30-$60.

Barry Gibb is the lone remaining member of the group, which originally began — with brother Andy, who died in 1988 — in 1958 as the Rattlesnakes, performing in the Redcliffe, Queensland, Australia, area.

They later took on the band names Wee Johnny Hayes & the Bluecats, and then Les Tosseurs. Called the Bee Gees — and not because they were the “brothers Gibb” — they started getting gigs on Australian TV shows and playing at resorts on the coast.

With a minor hit, “Wine and Women,” in hand, they headed back to England, where they recorded “New York Mining Disaster 1941” in 1967, which reached No. 1 across the pond and in the U.S.

Their “Bee Gees 1st” album contained that, “To Love Somebody” and “I Can’t See Nobody.” Then, their memorable single, “Massachusetts,” carried them to stardom.

Andy left them in 1969 or so, and the brothers had creative differences before reuniting in 1970. Soon thereafter came their first No. 1 hit in America, “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?”

In essence, the group was stagnating. Eric Clapton suggested they move to Miami, where they recorded some jazzy tunes like “Jive Talkin'” and “Nights on Broadway.”

Then came the real turning point in their careers: A movie called “Saturday Night Fever.”

Three of their singles (“How Deep Is Your Love,” “Stayin’ Alive” and “Night Fever”) reached No. 1 in the U.S. and elsewhere around the globe. A song from the movie “More Than a Woman,” the “B side” of “Stayin’ Alive,” was another hit.

Since then, disco has died and so have Maurice (in 2003) and Robin (in 2012). Their music didn’t — the “Saturday Night Fever” LP sold more than 40 million copies.

In late 1997, The Bee Gees performed a live concert in Las Vegas, “One Night Only.” The CD of the performance sold over 5 million copies, and led to a world tour of “One Night Only” concerts.

In 2001, the Bee Gees released what turned out to be their final album of new material as a group, “This Is Where I Came In,” which gave each member a chance to write in his own way, as well as composing songs together.

Baldoni’s not sure how long he’ll keep reprising the role of Gibb, whom he’s never met.

“How do you get musicians to complain? Get them a gig,” he quipped, not about to complain. “It’s always fun, man. I’m a real kinda grateful guy.”