Hagar & Company Kick Off Artpark Season With A Bang

Concert Review
Sammy Hagar & The Circle
Night Ranger

Tuesday in the Park
Artpark Outdoor Stage
Lewiston, NY
Tuesday June 4, 2019
Review/Photos: Joseph Suto

There is nothing like the first Tuesday in the Park of the season. It gives everyone a chance to check out all the changes Artpark made no matter how subtle they are. This is one dedicated group of people who really have taken the reins and turned Artpark into one of the top venues around in just a short period of time. Having Sammy Hagar & The Circle kick off the season with special guest Night Ranger was pure genius.

We’ll start the review with Night Ranger because quite frankly there has never been an opening act that received the reception these guys received after their brief but extremely effective 45-minute set.

The band decided to mix things up and open with their anthem “(You Can Still) Rock In America”. Usually the song that closes their set, it helped set the mood and tone for the entire evening. Blades and Company showed exactly why they may be the most underrated band from the 80’s.

The boys from the Bay area played most of their hits and even dug deep for “Night Ranger” a rare track from their debut in which the band took their name from. The Damn Yankees cover of “High Enough” had the crowd singing all the way to the top of the hill. Other highlights included the band’s mega-smash “Sister Christian”. They closed with a fantastic version of “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me” as they also mixed in a verse or two of the Deep Purple classic “Highway Star”.

The core of the band Blades, drummer, vocalist Kelly Keagy and guitarist Brad Gillis are complimented well by keyboardist Eric Levy and guitarist Keri Kelli. This is perhaps the best live version of the band in its 30-plus year history.

Back in 2014 Sammy Hagar formed a new band and dubbed them the Circle. Vic Johnson was already playing with Hagar as was bassist Michael Anthony. To round out the band Hagar chose powerhouse drummer Jason Bonham. One of the bands first few shows took place at Artpark five years ago. As Hagar professed to the crowd Tuesday night, “we got better”. And how. Overall both bands sounded great making this one of the best sounding shows ever at Artpark.

The band released their album Space Between last month and it shot up to number 4 on the big chart as Hagar called it. “Trust Fund Baby” and “Can’t Hang” were two tracks played from the album that fit in fine with the rest of the band’s set. Mixing in Hagar solo selections as well as some of his best known Van Halen tunes really gave the overall set a great flavor. This is the only place to hear such Van Halen gems as “Why Can’t This Be Love”, “Poundcake” and “Right Now”.

Hagar told many stories throughout the evening. He told the crowd he plans on playing live shows into his 80’s. At 71 Hagar sounded as well as he ever has and played as much guitar as I’ve seen him play the last few times I’ve seen him perform.

With this band currently cooking right now (even with guitarist Johnson playing from a stool due to a broken leg), I can’t see how the Van Halen brothers can match up at this point. While there were a few rumors of bassist Anthony possibly joining back up with Van Halen, he would be better off staying with Hagar and keeping The Circle moving forward. Anyone who witnessed this show can attest that both bands have set the bar very high making this show a hard one to top.

SAMMY HAGAR & THE CIRCLE

NIGHT RANGER

Sammy Hagar & The Circle
Trust Fund Baby
There’s Only One Way to Rock
Three Lock Box
Poundcake
I Can’t Drive 55
Can’t Hang
Finish What Ya Started
Right Now
Rock Candy
Devil Came To Philly
Full Circle Jam (Chump Change)
Why Can’t This Be Love
Rock and Roll
Heavy Metal
Mas Tequila
Eagles Fly
Best of Both Worlds
Affirmation

Night Ranger
(You Can Still) Rock In America
Four in the Morning
Sing Me Away
Night Ranger
High Enough
When You Close Your Eyes
Sister Christian
Don’t Tell Me You Love Me/Highway Star

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About Joseph Suto

Location: Buffalo, NY Photographer/Reviewer
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