Concert Review: Foreigner, Cheap Trick and Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience

Foreigner, Cheap Trick and Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience
Starlight Theatre, Kansas City MO
August 15th, 2017

Review By: J.R. Deeter

“KHIT Radio….all the Hits, all the Time!!!” Don’t you just hate it when you attend a concert and the bands give you some of their hit songs, the ones you know from radio airplay growing up. Or from the constant hours you spent listening to the albums and cassettes you bought at Musicland? But instead they also play a bunch of songs you do not know….”Here’s one from our 3rd album”….ummm, yeah….time to hit the bathroom and concession stand. Well, there was none of that for the Foreigner 40th Anniversary tour stop at Kansas City’s Starlight outdoor venue (weather was great – just about perfect). If you got out of your seat at all, you missed out.

The show began with the Jason Bonham Led Zeppelin Experience, appropriately starting with “Rock N Roll,” “Black Dog,” “Over the Hills and Far Away”…straight through for a total of nine of Zeppelin’s biggest hits, wrapping it up with “Whole Lotta Love.” No “Stairway to Heaven” (thank you). I’ve never been a huge Zeppelin fan, but it was entertaining, with lead singer James Dylan holding his own on vocals and of course, Jason Bonham in charge from behind the drum kit.

Up next, in my honest opinion, the best part of the whole evening, Cheap Trick. They took the stage, opening their show as always with “Hello There,” then rocking through classics like “Big Eyes” and “Ain’t That A Shame.” They threw in a couple for the ladies, “If You Want My Love” and “The Flame,” then broke out the BIG HITS including “I Want You To Want Me,” “Dream Police” and “Surrender.” The band wrapped up their set with “Auf Wiedersehen” and “Goodnight.” Robin Zander’s vocals: still got it. Tom Peterson on Bass: doing fine. Rick Nielsen ROCKS and yes, his son Daxx Nielsen is still the drummer. And, yes, I still miss Bun E. Carlos.

40 years is a long time in the world of rock and roll…most bands never see that kind of longevity. Even with a few years of missing from radio, with no new music, if you’ve ever been on top with monster hits your fans will keep those songs alive. Foreigner is just that kind of band. They brought the best of their best for this show, opening with “Double Vision,” “Head Games” and “Cold as Ice.” They kept going and going, mixing power ballads like “Waiting For A Girl Like You” with rockers like “Dirty White Boy,” “Urgent,” and of course, “Jukebox Hero.” They closed the show, assisted on backing vocals by a choir from the local Saint Thomas Aquinas High School, with their biggest hit to date, “I Wanna Know What Love Is” followed 1978’s “Hot Blooded.”

I enjoyed it all…..while Mick Jones is showing his age at 72, his guitar playing is exceptional. Lead vocalist Kelly Hansen, apparently attempting to channel Steven Tyler, can work the crowd well and delivers vocally.

NOTE: Lou Gramm is playing a few shows on the 40th Anniversary tour, but alas, KC was not one.

Concert Review: Garth Brooks

Garth Brooks
May 7, 2017
Sprint Center, Kansas City, MO

Our score: 5 out of 5 Stars

Before I begin let me say that I love the Sprint Center. At least once I’m inside. I’ve seen many shows there and have never had a bad seat. However, getting into the show is another story.

In November 2007 Garth Brooks played nine sold-out shows at the Sprint Center, a mere month after the building first opened. His return (for seven more) was met with great joy by the Kansas City faithful. Unfortunately those faithful had said faith put to the test with all of the problems involved. Tickets were only available through AXS, a company similar to Ticketmaster. When they went on sale I logged on to their site AND dialed their number, figuring to use whichever method got me my tickets first. Thankfully I stayed on hold as all 14 times I tried to purchase tickets on-line failed. I would get my seats picked out (a couple times I had nice floor seats), and receive a message that read “you know have two minutes and 30seconds to complete your transaction: CLICK HERE TO CONFIRM.” I would “click” and get an error message that read “your session has timed out.” 14 TIMES!

Luckily, after an hour and twenty-eight minutes on hold, an operator came on the line. I told her the problem and she told me “this always happens” whenever AXS has a large event. “Our servers can’t handle all of the traffic.” At least she was honest. The local news was told that it was a “software” error that was later fixed. NOT! Anyway, thanks to Garth playing seven shows I was able to get some nice seats. Now to get inside.

I love the layout of the Sprint Center. What I don’t love is the fact that, for a building that can hold almost 20,000 people, there are only TWO entrances: one in the front of the building and one in the rear. Most venues I’ve been too, and I’ve seen concerts literally all over the world, have multiple gates and entrances all around the building. Because of the way the Sprint Center is set up, we got in line about three blocks from the Sprint Center at 6:15 for the 7:30 show and got to out seats at 7:45! Ridiculous. And I couldn’t help but think, while I was waiting to get inside, what kind of horrible tragedy it would become should something happen while the building was packed and had to be evacuated immediately. I shudder to think of the casualties!

Now for the good stuff:

Even though he had played four shows since Friday night, Brooks was in fine form and full of energy. He kicked off the show with the song “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance,” from his 10th studio LP, “Gunslinger.” He then promised the audience that he’d be doing all of the hits and kept that promise with songs like “Rodeo,” “Two of a Kind, Workin’ on a Full House” and then led the audience in a great sing-along with “The River.”

Several times during the show Brooks commented that his voice was going and that the audience may have to carry him through the night, which was apparently no problem for those in attendance as nearly 20,000 voices filled the Sprint Center, matching Brooks word for word. Like Mick Jagger, Brooks is a consummate showman, almost refusing to stand steady for more than a moment at a time.

Halfway through the show Brooks was joined on stage by his wife, singer Trisha Yearwood, who sang a mini-set of some of her hits (“She’s In Love With the Boy,” “How Do I Live?”) before once again relinquishing the stage to her husband. After more hits Brooks sent the band off stage, picked up his guitar and peered into the audience, where fans had brought posters emblazoned with the titles of songs they wanted to hear. He obliged several of them, both his voice and guitar sounding clean and clear. The band returned to close the show with “Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old),” in which he offered his heartfelt blessing to the late Chris LeDoux) and a rousing “Standing Outside the Fire,” which shook the rafters. It was almost 11:30 when the show ended. However, with as much fun and energy as he brought to Kansas City, I wouldn’t be surprised if the man is still on stage singing right now!

Concert Review: Rick Springfield and Pat Benatar & Neil Geraldo

rick

Rick Springfield and Pat Benatar & Neil Geraldo
May 5th, 2017
Starlight Theater, Kansas City, MO

Our score: 5 out of 5 Stars

To me, it was the “First time and Familiar” Show.

This is the 15th time I’ve seen Rick Springfield. I’ve seen him at outdoor venues, arenas and, on July 15, 1993, got to sing with him at Max’s on Broadway in Baltimore. Ironically, 1100 miles west of me, my future wife was celebrating her birthday! And tonight I was seeing him at same place I saw him for the very first time.

Mr. Springthorpe (his real name for those of you that have a desire to stump others in trivia) kicked off the show with a rousing “I’ve Done Everything For You,” then filled the night with an amazing assortment of hits, newer songs and covers, including an amazing version of Katy Perry’s “Roar.” He did a fine medley of some of his biggest hits as well as two long, fan friendly versions of “Don’t Talk to Strangers” and “Human Touch.” And, of course, he brought down the house with “Jessie’s Girl!” In his book, Springfield talks about how another guitarist was brought in to play the lead on the recording of “Jessie’s Girl” as the record label didn’t think Springfield was playing it clean enough. Obviously this stuck with him as he has, in the past three decades, become a fine guitarist, even throwing in a little “Purple Haze” in this show to demonstrate his chops. All in all a very high-energy and entertaining set.

Next on the bill were Pat Benatar and Neil Geraldo. I had never seen these two live before and they were surely an act on my bucket list! Following a short video which explained how the two ended up together (both professionally and personally) the band took the stage. In the pre-show video we learned that Ms. Benatar had been trained to use her voice from a young age and that training obviously paid off. Unlike recent shows I attended of her musical contemporaries (Joan Jett, Ann Wilson from Heart), Ms. Benatar was in amazing voice, never missing a note, no matter how high or long. And I owe Mr. Geraldo an apology. In December 2000, writing for a friends web site, I listed him as the 8th greatest guitarist of all time. I may have sold him short. Seeing him live, watching him provide the backbone to some of the most popular songs of the 80s, certainly moved him up the list. Their on-stage stories about how some of the songs came along were just as entertaining. Oh, and as a follow-up to the story I told about Rick Springfield needed a better guitarist, the audience learned what I already knew…that guitarist was Neil Giraldo. Ironically, in the past Mr. Springfield had already lost a girlfriend (Linda Blair) and a new mixing machine to Mr. Giraldo so I can’t see his feelings being hurt too much more! The hits were many and the stories interesting. Ms. Benatar talked about the “Holy 14,” which are the songs they must play or they get blasted on social media for neglecting them. As far as I know, she did them all because I left the show more then satisfied.

Concert Review: “The Package Tour” New Kids on the Block, 98 Degrees, Boyz II Men – Orlando FL

The Package Tour – New Kids on the Block, 98 Degrees, Boyz II Men
Amway Center
Orlando, Florida
June 21, 2013 7:30pm

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

After 25 years of performing together, you would think that the New Kids on the Block might be sick of each other. You’d be wrong. This group looked they were having more fun then a bunch of kids at Walt Disney World, I should know -as I’m there all the time! Donnie Wahlberg, Jordan Knight, Joey McIntyre, Jonathan Knight and Danny Wood were on point last night as they headlined The Package Tour at Amway Center here in Orlando, Florida. They proved that they may be older, but like a fine wine, this group has aged well!

Opening for the New Kids on the Block were Boyz II Men. Nathan Morris, Shawn Stockman and Wanya Morris showed the crowd that this is what they had been missing all these years. Their set was just about 30 minutes and it proved to be lots of fun and full of nostalgia. They sang their hits “On Bended Knee,” “I’ll Make Love to You,” “Motownphilly,” “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” and “Water Runs Dry.” The Boyz proved that they still got it. Their energy was through the roof and they all looked and sounded great too.

Following Boyz II Men, was the ballad loving 98 Degrees. Proving that time has been good to the whole group, the guys of 98 Degrees showed off their vocals and their muscles, as they performed in wife beater tank tops for most of their set. They’ve traded in the mushroom haircuts and the baseball caps for sleeker hair and vests and suspenders. As was agreed upon by the women in the crowd around me, Jeff looked as though he had stepped out of the pages of a Fireman’s Calendar donning suspenders and tight shirt displaying his biceps. Getting back to the music, 98 Degrees put on a good show. Their energy was not as high as Boyz II Men and their choreography seemed to need a little bit of an update. They sang their hits, “Invisible Man,” “The Hardest Thing,” “I Do (Cherish You),” “”Give Me Just One Night (Una Noche),” and “Because of You.” 98 Degrees also showcased a new song off of their latest album, “2.0,” called “Microphone,” which was enjoyable. Nick Lachey, Drew Lachey, Justin Jeffre and Jeff Timmons showed that they can still perform their hits well and that they just may have some heat left in them.

We were informed at the beginning of the New Kids’ set that we would be in for a 2 hour set and that we should kick back, relax and party like there’s no tomorrow. Laser lights beamed brightly as the group came on stage and promptly started in with one of their singles, “We Own the Night” off their newest album, “10.” From that song on, it was a set filled with fun choreography, wardrobe changes, fog, pyrotechnics, a rotating and rising stage, and five very good looking, happy guys who were loving the crowd and having a ball performing.

The New Kids performed a variety of songs from their past hits such as “You Got It (The Right Stuff),” “I’ll Be Loving You Forever,” and “Step By Step.” In what proved to be an incredible medley, the group performed “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind),” “If You Go Away” and the highlight of the medley featured Joey performing “Please Don’t Go Girl.” He may not be hitting the high high notes as he used to, but Joey McIntyre proved he is a force to be reckoned with as he clearly knocked this song out of the park!

The set that the New Kids performed included some tributes to other performers as Jordan sang Prince’s “Kiss,” Joey sang a cover of George Michael’s “Faith” and Donnie sang Nelly’s “Hot in Herre” into which the group then sang their own hit “Dirty Dancing.” Other hits included in their set were “Click, Click, Click” “Single” and “Remix.” And a real treat for those of us on the floor and even in the surrounding 100 section, was when the New Kids performed “Tonight,” they walked through the crowded swarms of screaming women and hugged and sang to all of us. It was truly an amazing feat, as their fans proved to be very much in love with every single one of these guys and really didn’t want to let them get back to the stage!

Jordan proved he can still hit the high notes, Danny showed off his break dancing skills, Donnie proved to be the group’s leader and emcee as he conducted the crowd, Joey has some new dance moves and an amazing set of pipes, and finally Jonathan proved to be an incredible performer that those of us who have been lifelong fans, knew he always was. All in all, The New Kids on the Block put on an amazing show. Their final two songs left the crowd wanting more as they paired with Boyz II Men to sing their hit , “Motownphilly,” and then finished the show out with an incredible, confetti-filled, “Hangin’ Tough.” If you are a fan of any or all of these bands, get yourself to an arena near you when the Package comes to your town, it’s the one gift you’ll want to open again and again!