Written By Braddon S. Williams aka “The Concert Critic”
On this date in history, 12/11/21, my wife and I took a road trip to the Honeywell Center in Wabash, IN to see .38 Special. This was my fourth time seeing them, but the first time to see them headlining their own show (at a superior venue nonetheless!), and the first time seeing them with my lovely wife (who happens to be a huge fan!). Needless to say, expectations were high, but we were both absolutely blown away by how entertaining this show was on every possible level.
Okay, the opening act was nothing spectacular, nor was it terrible, either. Dane Clark, longtime drummer for John Mellencamp, performed a brief set of original songs, strumming acoustic guitar and providing lead vocals. Clark was accompanied by another guitarist (handling electric lead guitar and backing vocals), and they sounded great, but would have been better suited to a smaller club without the support of a full band. At any rate, Dane Clark and friend didn’t overstay their welcome, and the headliners came on shortly thereafter and proceeded to show the near capacity crowd how they have remained a vibrant and passionate live act for over four decades.
First and foremost, .38 Special has an impressive collection of great songs, and they played a veritable assortment of greatest hits for the faithful fans. In addition to their hit parade, they also tossed in an inspired trio of covers…Feelin’ Stronger Every Day by Chicago, Good Times by The Easybeats, and Travelin’ Band by Creedence Clearwater Revival…all of which were delivered with reverence and unmistakable glee. That feeling of joy is something I have been really pleased to witness time and time again as bands return to the concert stages following the enforced downtime imposed by the pandemic. It appears that many artists are perhaps re-discovering how genuinely special it is to have the privilege to do what they do. All of us music fanatics are thankful to be part of the process, too. Even with all the gems in the setlist, the guys found time to squeeze in an impressive segment featuring an epic center stage guitar solo feature, and a drum solo to give equal time to the percussionist.
This current lineup of the long running Southern Rock legends includes Don Barnes (lead vocals, guitars, harmonica, keyboards) who was sensational through and through, Jerry Riggs (lead guitar) fantastic player who used to play with Pat Travers, Barry Dunaway (bass and backing vocals) very solid player with great stage presence, Bobby Capps (keyboards and vocals) added a lot of energy to the show, and Gary “Madman” Moffatt (drums, percussion) keeping the beat right in the pocket where it belongs. I have to mention some of my highlight tunes, because the entire set was basically a highlight reel, but for me it was amazing to hear Caught Up In You, Hang On Loosely, Chain Lightning, Fantasy Girl, Back To Paradise, and Rockin’ Into The Night all played in the fabulous Honeywell Center. That building has to be an absolute dream stage for any band, providing state of the art sound and lighting, with not a bad seat in the house. Come to think of it, the venue is pretty sweet for us audience members, too. Previously, I had seen the wild-eyed Southern boys as a superior support act…on this night it was exquisitely satisfying to see them as the super-worthy headliners they have become.