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.

On This Day in History

On this date in history, 5/18/2001, a friend at work had given me free tickets, so I found myself at Deer Creek in Noblesville watching The Charlie Daniels Band, .38 Special, and The Dickie Betts Band.

We arrived pretty late in Dickie’s set, but what we saw was excellent. I’m a huge Allman Brothers fan and had seen him with them a few times. It was good to see him fronting a good band and he played his guitar with authority that night.

Up next was .38 Special. I had seen them in the late ’70’s opening for Rush, but this was a much more natural fit for them, and this crowd roared approval of The Wild Eyed Southern Boys’ every tune.

They really do have a lot of hits and crowd pleasing singalong opportunities.

Girls were shaking it and the guys didn’t mind a bit! The Charlie Daniels Band impressed me much more than I anticipated. Lots of hits for them, also. One song that I wasn’t familiar with was a blues song featuring the keyboard player on lead vocals.

He had a great voice and the band played the blues like they were a blues band at heart and not country boys. Charlie did double duty, slaying on the Les Paul and his trademark fiddle. On “The Devil Went Down To Georgia” he substituted “son of a gun” for “son of a bitch” in the lyrics, which kind of bothered me, but he wrote the song, so I guess if he wants to censor himself, he has every right to.

They ended the show with a stellar cover of “Free Bird” that was the best version I have ever heard. They began the song playing the intro on twin guitars in harmony on the iconic slide guitar part. It was breathtaking and had the crowd mesmerized from beginning to end. Gotta love a free concert!

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

On This Day in History

logo-main2

On this date in history, 4/27/1980, I saw Rush and .38 Special at Market Square Arena. This was one of the stranger combinations in terms of musical styles, but it was a fantastic show all the same.

I had just seen Rush a little less than a year and a half prior to this and in that time they had released  Permanent Waves. This album was the one featuring “The Spirit Of Radio” and “Freewill” and began a trend towards shorter songs. There were still a couple of long ones, but they didn’t take up a whole side of the album, so it counts as a pretty major change for the Canadian trio.

guitar-player-06.1980-2

All facets of the live show were in full growth mode…better lighting, better sound, more songs to choose from; but the consistency and commitment to excellence remained a hallmark of all the Rush shows I ever attended. Geddy, Alex and Neil were all simply killing it on their respective instruments and playing together as a unit with a razor focus.

$_35The opening set by the talented .38 Special was loaded with their fiery southern rock and full of great songs that are still played on classic rock stations all these years later. On paper it was a weird band to open for Rush, but in the arena it all came down to songs and performance, and both bands delivered plenty of highlights.

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

Rush – Exit Stage Left 1980

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4oSzKc25R54

 

38 Special Live  1980

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsU3DO5XnVY

On This Day in History