Foreigner/Styx/Don Felder; Let Freedom Rock Fest 7/3/14

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Foreigner/Styx/Don Felder; Let Freedom Rock Fest 7/3/14

Postby jimmy19029 » Thu Jul 10, 2014 1:14 am

It's summertime and yet another tradition has joined in alongside the fireflies, fireworks and clinking ice cubes in your lemonade cup--a touring bill of classic rockers. This year's most popular tour of that persuasion is called "The Soundtrack of Summer". And this year in my area it joined forces with yet another annual event, The 4th of July's "Let Freedom Rock Fest".

A few months ago, it was announced that there would be specially priced lawn tickets for $10. That was the good news since this used to be a free event with free parking over in Cooper River Park. But three years ago it moved up the road to where it is now...the regular outdoor venue currently called Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, NJ. But now the bad news! First they tacked on a $5.50 service charge and now parking is $25 & $30----double the cost of my ticket! Then, I found out going in that the store that sold it to me, Walmart, had not given me the actual ticket but only the receipt. But the receipt had all the info on it, I didn't know why they couldn't just print me a ticket from that. They were trying to get Walmart on the phone when a lady walked by handing out free lawn passes. PROBLEM SOLVED! But then the storm clouds blew in right before Don Felder took the stage, carrying vicious lightning bolts and kicking up blinding dirt. I got off the lawn pretty quickly to take refuge under one of the concession bar's roofs. Man, was I going to get a break tonight or what?

Fortunately I was still able to hear Felder from the bar and the lawn screens provided the picture until the rain quit and moved off pretty quickly. And the night, which had been sweltering, was now beautiful. A perfect night to be out and about and a gorgeous breeze off of the river!

I was curious to see what Felder would play and he offered mostly Eagles hits, alongside a few solo things. I was very happy to hear "Heavy Metal (Takin' a Ride)", his title theme from that cool 1981 animated sci-fi film and one new cut, "You Don't Have Me". Felder sang most of the songs, including the big ones originally sung by his former partner, Don Henley. To my ears they didn't sound anywhere near as good keyed down and sung with that awful auto-tune effect. The Eagles don't have anything to worry about competition-wise from their former guitarist. I still enjoyed hearing his guitar, though. Maybe he can bring in another singer to help out on the vocals in the future...Just a thought.

Don's band was loaded with guys I was already familiar with. Guitarist Frank Simes I remember from Don Henley's solo band and keyboard man Timothy Drury played with both Henley and the reunited Eagles in the 90s. Bassist Shem Von Shroeck I've seen and met several times playing with Ambrosia and Kenny Loggins. A real nice guy. And Scott Devours was providing the percussion. After Styx's Tommy Shaw came out to join Don and the band for "Hotel California", Don was off but later came back to join Tommy and the Styx guys for their hit "Blue Collar Man".

Styx were next out. But before they hit the stage, we were treated to the big booming guns firing courtesy of the nearby U.S.S. New Jersey.

Between the two remaining sets, Styx's provided the most surprises as they pulled out the usual hits but still found room for "Light Up", "Suite Madam Blue" and "Superstars", three non-hit "deep cuts" that kept the die-hards like me happy. Current singer/keyboardist Lawrence Gowan also sang snippets of two of the classic rock songs he usually brings in to demonstrate some of the tunes he used to sing in his cover band days. Tonight we were treated to "You Can't Always Get What You Want" and "Light My Fire". The latter Gowan offered as one more joke about the fire the previous day at Penn's Landing that had almost consumed the Styx and Foreigner tour buses. He laughed that he was tired of seeing all the fire jokes on Facebook and Twitter and hoped this would be the last word. Also, some of the proceeds from tonight's show were being offered to the Philadelphia Firemens' Widows' Fund (I think that's what it was called).

No complaints from a Styx show (Yes, I know, no Dennis DeYoung, but other than that..). Great energetic performances from Gowan, Tommy Shaw and fellow guitarist/singer JY. And solid drumming from nineteen year vet Todd Sucherman, who never fails to dazzle. Also, I was mightily impressed with bass player Ricky Phillips' spot on harmonies. The only unexpected surprise for me was--no guest shot from original bassist Chuck Panozzo. I wonder if he's retired from the stage altogether....

Apparently Foreigner and Styx have been taking turns on closing the show. Tonight it was Foreigner's turn, so I was pretty amazed to only hear TEN SONGS from them after Styx's twelve...thirteen if you count the Gowan medley as two. A Foreigner regular set is usually pretty predictable with maybe one new song or deep cut...if you're lucky. But I knew with only ten it was going to be big hits all the way, no frills.

Since 2003, Foreigner founder/guitarist Mick Jones has been the sole remaining original member. But three years ago he was forced to temporarily retire from the stage and eventually underwent heart bypass surgery. Two summers ago, he began to again make appearances with the group at some shows for partial sets. Tonight he was introduced just before the band went into the halfway point of the set at "Feels Like the First Time". Since 2011, the band has employed Scottish sub-lead guitarist Bruce Watson, who was originally with Rod Stewart's band.

And just like a Styx show, a Foreigner set, even a brief one such as this, does not disappoint. Current lead singer singer Kelly Hansen has been with Foreigner almost a decade now and, like the Styx boys, he is a bundle of energy jumping all over the stage, hitting all notes with ease.

And the band is rounded out by the more than capable Jeff Pilson (bass, backing vocals, ex-Dokken). Michael Bluestein (keyboards, synths, backing vocals), Thom Gimbel (sax, flute, guitar, keyboards, backing vocals, ex-Aerosmith) and Chris Frazier (drums, ex-Whitesnake).

And after encores of "I Want to Know What Love Is", where the band was joined onstage by the Cherokee High School Choir from Marlton, NJ, and "Hot Blooded", the Let Freedom Rock Fest was done for another year.

Don Felder set:

Already Gone
One of These Nights
You Don't Have Me
Those Shoes
Seven Bridges Road
Witchy Woman
Heavy Metal (Takin' a Ride)
Heartache Tonight
Life in the Fast Lane
Hotel California

Styx set:

The Grand Illusion
Too Much Time On My Hands
Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)
Suite Madame Blue
Light Up
Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)
Gowan solos: You Can't Always Get What You Want / Light My Fire
Come Sail Away

Rockin' The Paradise

Foreigner set:

Double Vision
Head Games
Cold as Ice
Waiting For A Girl Like You
Feels Like the First Time
Jute Box Hero

I Want to Know What Love Is
Hot Blooded
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