At first glance, it seemed like just another night in the OC going to a show at FivePoint Amphitheatre. As soon as I drove up to the grounds, I knew something was different in the air for this one. Immediately there were fans pouring in to see Sammy Hagar & The Circle.
As I pulled up, I smelled something in the air that I normally don’t at shows, it smelled like BBQ? Sure enough, as I made my way in I saw something I had only seen at football games, I saw a few RVs, with people outside having a great time, and tailgating with a full BBQ arrangement in full effect. Hot, sweet and sticky was definitely on the calendar for the day.
It was a sight to see, I saw fans from all walks of life, young and let’s say older tailgaters, blasting their favorite tunes from Hagar’s remarkable career. Sure, the party was going on outside the venue, but as soon as you stepped inside, it was a Mardi Gras atmosphere. There was a long line of concertgoers waiting patiently grab a pic of themselves in front of the Bud Light FivePoint presents sign.
The temps throughout the week were insane. As the opener took the stage, it was still in the 90s with like 900% humidity. The crowd was not stymied by the weather, in fact, it gave them just another reason to take in some libations to cool off.
The opener was Rick Lewis. He was a combination stand-up comedian I think, and solo artist. I don’t know if it was the heat, or the energetic crowd, but it worked. Lewis was entertaining, funny and he had a few songs; that brought the crowd to life. It was an abbreviated set of course, but Lewis did well and warmed up the crowd for George Thorogood and the Destroyers.
September 10, 2022
With attitude and energy of a WWF Wrestler, Thorogood took to the stage with a commanding presence. As he stood in front of the already near capacity crowd, it is no wonder he isone of the most celebrated rock & blues rock artists ever. He immediately displayed his David Lindley-esque slide-guitar style, and those distinctive vocals; he appropriately opened to “Rock Party.”
As the crowd settled in, he captured the audience with an electrifying in your face rendition of Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love,” the crowd went bananas! It was hit after hit, and covers were part of his shtick. Songs like The Sonics “Shot Down,” The Strangeloves, “Night Time,” and John Lee Hooker’s “House Rent Blues.” By now, school was in session and Thorogood was head master!
Because it was George Thorogood and the Destroyers, he closed with his signature song and sonic vision that led him to the promised land. You guessed it, “Bad to the Bone.” The band was killin’ it, Billy Blough on bass, Jim Suhler on rhythm guitar, Buddy Leach on sax, Jeff Simon on drums, and of course, Mr. Thorogood on slide with those wicked vocals. As the last note rang throughout the venue, the crowd gave the band a very well-deserved ovation.
As the moon raised itself into the stars and perched itself to a front row seat, the crowd was amped. Head bangers in leather along with tight jeans and lipstick were present as far as the eye could see.
In between set music got them in the mood, and as the overhead music stopped and lights dimmed, the unmistakable sound of the crowd welcoming their musical heroes to the stage gave you goosebumps. One by one, Vic Johnson, Michael Anthony, Jason Bonham, and Sammy Hagar emerged to entertain their legion of fans.
Immediately Bonham hit the skins, and Hagar raised his hand forming the horns, the nearly two hours of mayhem began!
Looking back at Hagar’s career – with his solo success and with other bands – the crowd was going to get a very good look at Hagar’s musical prowess. Opening with “Crazy Times,” the crowd settled in nicely.
What everyone loves about Hagar, he is kinda’ like Springsteen in a way. Not only can he play guitar and sing, he tells great stories in between songs and often includes the band. Like any great orator, Hagar never missed an opportunity to tell a quick story to let the crowd catch their breath. In other words he was doing the crowd and security a solid, they just didn’t know it.
The band ran through some original music and covers, like “There’s Only One Way to Rock,” “Three Lock Box,” “Mas Tequilla,” “Your Love is Driving Me Crazy,” “Heavy Metal,” and “I Can’t Drive 55.”
It was the covers parade that drove the crown out of their proverbial minds. Flashbacks included Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll,” Montrose’s cover of “Rock Candy,” then the Van Halen segment included “Poundcake,” “Top of the World,” and “Ain’t Talkin’ ’bout Love,” those songs sent the crowd into the stratosphere.
Before the guys called it a night, they rolled off with “Why Can’t This Be Love,” and the closer was more of a sing-along with “Cabo Wabo.”
Obviously, it was later in the evening, and the temps supposedly cooled down, but not in the Amphitheatre, Sammy Hagar and The Circle definitely lived up to the bill, and their fans couldn’t have been happier.