In 1975, I was introduced to an album called “Montrose” and a voice that took my breath away with songs like “Rock Candy”, “Bad Motor Scooter” and “Make It Last”. I have owned this record in its various forms continually since that time. The voice is none other than Sammy Hagar and today that album is a rock classic.
We all know the story, having had a solo career with the hits “I Can’t Drive 55” and “Three Lock Box” Sammy joined Van Halen after David Lee Roth’s departure and created a new VH sound with songs like “Right Now”, “Dreams” and “What is Love”. After departing, he started the supergroup, Chickenfoot with guitar master Joe Satriani. He has also become in his words “a liquor salesman” with his Cabo Wabo Cantina’s and liquor franchises.
For the sold out crowd at the Ruth Eckerd Hall on Wednesday night, he was the Red Rocker Sammy Hagar doing what he does best! His fans of “Redheads” were out in full force and Sammy did not disappoint. The setlist included a bit of everything. From those Montrose days there was “Rock Candy” and of course the Sammy/Van Halen hits like “Right Now”, solo material (Drive 55) and the great Zeppelin. John Bonham on drums gives you the idea that you’re gonna hear some Led and Sammy delivers! At 66, his voice is stellar and so is this band! Sammy’s old bandmate from Van Halen, Michael Anthony is on bass, Vic Johnson, who has been playing with Sammy since the late 90’s is a mesmerizing guitarist and Mr. Bonham on drums makes for a powerful team. Sammy picks up a guitar or two during the show but says, “I don’t need to, they’ve got it handled”.
During the show, Sammy has a lot of interaction with the crowd. Shaking hands, signing autographs and mixing drinks for himself and the crowd and storytelling. It is as entertaining as the music, well almost. Great lights and effects like rock star smoke, round out the show to be one of the best rock shows on tour. There is a new live album coming out next month and Sammy will be the guest for Live From Daryl’s House new season opener.
Photos by Vicky Sullivan, Rock the Lens Photography