Classic rock is a varied genre that sometimes is only distinguishable by distinct and unique vocals, sometimes being accepted as instruments on their own. Rochester, NY native Lou Gramm has just that quality, proving the statement correct by rocking the close to capacity crowd at the Bears Den inside the Seneca Niagara Casino on Friday evening. While considered a homecoming of sorts, this show was Lou’s first of the year, which featured a group of musicians that had chemistry and musical freshness that was a breath of fresh air in the sometimes stale concert market these days.
Accompanied by D-Drive’s Don Mancuso on guitar, the band was completed with bassist AD Zimmer, keyboardist Andy Knoll, and brother Ben Gramm on drums. The Lou Gramm band began their thirteen song return to the stage with the fitting “Feels Like The First Time” which ended with a standing ovation to welcome Lou and his band back to Niagara Falls, NY. From that point on, the energetic audience in attendance were treated to hit after hit with a Foreigner heavy set including fan favorites “Cold As Ice”, “Double Vision” and a rowdy version of “Urgent” with the more rare “Blue Morning, Blue Day” being thrown in for the die hards. Surprising to me, the crowed ate up the few solo songs that Gramm dusted off for this special evening. “Ready Or Not” and “Midnight Blue” just may have been two of the more popular tracks of the night, proving that Gramm doesn’t want to nor have to rely solely on his recorded material with Foreigner.
The only major downfall of the night was the omission of any recent material from The Lou Gramm Band in the current set list, especially with the strong self titled 2009 album which sat quietly at the merchandise table down the hall from the venue. You would think that with the positive energy and feedback on his older solo songs performed, Gramm would want to open the eyes of his fans with his new material. That said, Lou featured his still wide ranged, voice which sounded fantastic in the small and intimate Bears Den. Singing the classic songs sometimes using different melody’s which only added to the seasoned, classic tracks of both his own music and that of his previous band. A little below par “Jukebox Hero” closed out the set, proving to only lean a tad toward mediocre at best. Luckily, after leaving the stage, the band returned to redeem themselves with the unexpected “Long, Long, Way From Home” before finishing the night off with “Hot Blooded”, which is easily considered one of the quintessential of 70s classic rock.
Friday nights concert started and ended with all guns blazing and pointing straight for Gramm as he has been plagued with problems in the past including dealing with a brain tumor that was benign but caused his voice and stamina several problems. Lou clearly has decided to turn those guns around and point them straight at his audience in a great, positive way. The fans sang along, proud to be followers and friends of Lou, as he took the reigns and held on tight for the seventy minute performance letting every one know that 2012 will be another strong, successful year for The Lou Gramm Band.
Feels Like The First Time
Cold As Ice
Ready Or Not
Just Between You And Me
Blue Morning, Blue Day
I Want To KNow What Love Is
Dirty White Boy
Long Long Way From Home
Special Thanks to Tony Astran for allowing us to review the show