Sammy Hagar | 11.13.07

samusabig1.jpgOften when you see a classic rock artist performing their songs you get more of a nostalgic trip down memory lane. When Hagar performs his classic tunes, he insists his songs are as relevant today as they were thirty years ago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fabulous Fox Theater, St. Louis

This year, St. Louis rock radio station, K-SHE 95, turned forty years old. To celebrate, they coordinated their annual birthday bash with long time K-SHE friend and St. Louis favorite, Sammy Hagar, as he tours the country celebrating his own 60th birthday. The celebration was an event that brought out a group of hard-core music fans with a sense of loyalty rarely seen today.

As I approached the Fabulous Fox Theater, the streets and sidewalk were crowded with excited Hagar fans, known as "Redheads," clad in their red shirts and jackets. Inside The Fox, the scene was more like a Mardi Gras celebration than a rock concert. The Redheads were clad in red beads and red and white Cat in the Hat hats slurping up margaritas, hurricanes and of course beer, lots and lots of beer. The crowd was definitely more social and energetic than you see at many shows of newer bands.

The show opened up with former Van Halen bassist, Michael Anthony, leading the Wabos, Hagar’s band, though a series of classic Van Halen and other classic rock tunes.  From the first note of "Running with the Devil," the crowd knew they were in for a night of power riffs and scorching solos. When the crowd was thoroughly warmed up and the seats were full, Anthony left the stage and Hagar came out and began doing staples like "There’s Only One Way To Rock," "I’ll Fall In Love Again," and "Piece of My Heart," the classic Janis Joplin song. The acoustics of the Fox seemed to catch and amplify the music very well and there is never a bad seat in the house.

Throughout most of the show, Hagar performed mainly as a lead singer, leaving him free to sign autographs with the fans and try on the barrage of St. Louis sports jerseys and t-shirts thrown on stage. His guitarist, Vic Johnson was more than capable of handling the workload. However, on a few songs like the classic, "Heavy Metal," Hagar picked up his axe and showed the skills and passion that made him the rock icon that he is. As he tore through his own riffs, you could see and hear the enthusiasm in his playing. Often when you see a classic rock artist performing their songs you get more of a nostalgic trip down memory lane. When Hagar performs his classic tunes, he insists his songs are as relevant today as they were thirty years ago.

Hagar said, "We’re going to go back stage and take a quick break. Then pretend we are coming back to do an encore." When Sammy and the Wabos did return, they only did one song, an acoustic version of the Van Halen song, "Dreams." It was a warm rendition of the song, but I did miss hearing the classic, soaring solos that are its trademark. In an anti-climatic sort of way, the band left the stage. I suppose part of the reason was to leave the fans yearning to come back for more since this was only the first of a two night stint at The Fox.

This was the first time I ever saw Hagar live. In fact, I can’t even say I was a fan, nor did I own any of his or Van Halen’s albums. I knew most of the songs that were played from years of listening to rock and now classic rock radio. I had always heard that Sammy delivered good shows and left people satisfied. After seeing him, I’d have to agree. In an age when so many artist act like they don’t even like what they are doing and really couldn’t care less if you showed up, it was nice to see a guy who performs for the fans and delivers what they want. Hagar interacted with the crowd and even carried on personal conversations with members of the audience. Never did his rhetoric seem contrived.

At sixty years old, Hagar seems to be showing no signs of slowing down. He acts and looks like a guy half his age. Unlike other classic artists who have been so rich and famous for so long that they seem more like a distant characterization of themselves, Hagar still seems as real and genuine as an artist just taking off. Sammy Hagar is still a soldier in the trenches of a fading crusade called rock and roll.| Ryan Parker

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