“She looked out her window one day, and saw a dog chasing a butterfly…” An intro to the song, “Dog & Butterfly”, the title track of Ann and Nancy Wilson’s 1978 album, and one of those songs that they don’t play every show. Heart’s show at Thunder Valley on Friday night was my second in as many months, and as I mentioned in my review of that concert at Mountain Winery, they do change things up from show to show. It’s also a reminder of just how many decades that they’ve been recording and touring hit music – they’ve actually been active as Heart since the year I was born, 1973. With the other show so fresh in my mind, for me personally, it was all about comparing and contrasting the two shows. Crowds create context, and Mountain Winery vs Thunder Valley is kind of like the wine-drinking city crowd vs the beer-drinking crowd from relatively more rural areas. Different energy and momentum, I’d say the smaller stage and softer environment of the winery venue made for a more intimate show while the bigger, tall stage and spotlights at this show was more rocking. As with each time I’ve seen them, the show was amazing and each member of the band had moments to showcase their special gifts and talents. They are one of my favorite bands to see live, and growing up with their music, they have the ability to tilt that adrenaline in my spine with those special moments in those songs I carry with me, that take me back to touch points in my life and feelings of nostalgia as they transport me back in time.
“I love you too, sir!” Huey Lewis of Huey Lewis and The News literally giving some love to one member of the sold out crow at Thunder Valley’s Outdoor Amphitheater on Friday night. “We first worked together about 40 years ago…” Huey Lewis, talking about Eddie Money who played the supporting set, giving a sense of how long the two have been making hit music, both with new albums in the works today. Of course, Huey Lewis and The News came armed with more hits than they had time to play, but they did manage to squeeze in a few new songs as well, introducing one by saying, “a brand new song for you… now feel free to imagine yourself owning this song on a CD sometime next year – it’s called, ‘Her Love Is Killing Me'”. Having taken their “Sports 30th Anniversary Tour” around the U.S. in 2013, they have always been a band to look both backwards and forwards, and the timelessness style of their music makes it easy for fans to embrace this approach. Shows by Huey Lewis and The News always seem to have an authentic vibe to them, as Huey reminisces about their roots in the area, even when playing to a long sold out crowd of 5,000+ fans.
Last night I had an opportunity to see Styx perform at Thunder Valley Resort and Casino in Lincoln, California. Really quite the performance… it’s rare these days when a band comes onto the stage, sans opening act, and just let’s it rip, and has the audience from the first riff. Given that the band, born in Chicago, has been around since the 70s, they obviously have a stellar catalog of work to choose from, and the set tonight spanned everything from their more anthemic rock to popular hits on the ballad side, showing a real versatility in their musical style as well as an unusually democratic (small “d”) sharing of their various talents, and (quite literally) the spotlight. It is obvious that these guys love to perform, feed off their audience, and seem to play together well, and really appear to enjoy their music and playing it live – together – to an enthusiastic crowd. And given some back and forth, and my interview with Lawrence Gowan leading up to the show, and, well, just looking around within the amphitheater (which at least appeared to be completely sold out), their audience today very much spans many, many generations, with old and new fans alike just soaking in some genuine rock and roll. Styx really delivered, and it was an awesome performance, from beginning to end. [Read more…]