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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Currently Booming: 'Juke Box Heroes Tour' Review (6-23-18 Camden, NJ)


ICYMI!

If you're a classic rock fan then the summer of 2018's concert circuit is really designed just for you. Rather than heading out to see a show with a lukewarm opener followed by a great headlining act, music fans are being handed 3+ straight hours of music that they were raised on. Music by supergroups like Steely Dan and The Doobie Brothers or Def Leppard and Journey is woven into the fabric of an entire generation or twos' life and that's why they are still more than capable of selling out the biggest of venues. The 'Juke Box Heroes Tour' is undoubtedly one of the very best things to hit the stage (any stage) this summer and when Foreigner, Whitesnake and Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Evening stopped into Camden, NJ's BB&T Pavillion this past weekend the fans were out in full force.  

Camden is technically considered a Philadelphia venue and Philly audiences are notoriously loud when showing their love for the music that is still part of their daily lives, even if it's decades old. June 23rd was no exception and as the audience settled in for a long night together Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Evening was first up to set the tone. Jason is, of course, the son of the legendary John Bonham, Zeppelin's late drummer and it's pretty unlikely that anyone else could reimagine the band's classic catalog better than he can. 

(All Photos by Cate Meighan- Jason Bonham & James Dylan)

Jason Bonham

Bonham's set included Zeppelin classics like "Whole Lotta Love", "Immigrant Song" and "Good Times, Bad Times" with James Dylan more than holding his own on lead vocals. Jimmy Sakurai, is a welcome new addition as he recently replaced Tommy Catania on guitar. Sakurai has studied the intricacies of Jimmy Page's playing turning it almost into a science, something that Bonham especially appreciates. 

Jimmy Sakurai

The highlight of their set was an emotional rendition of "Stairway to Heaven" aptly dedicated to Pantera's Vinnie Paul who had passed away earlier in the weekend. 

The vibe instantly changed when Whitesnake hit the stage, bringing with them guitar dueling Joel Hoekstra (read his interview here)  and Reb Beach, a low-key Michael Devin on bass, and Italian-born Michele Luppi on keys.

Joel Hoekstra & Reb Beach

Reb Beach


Joel Hoekstra

 Tommy Aldridge is an absolute beast on the drums, using his hands, fists, and elbows during his solo, and then there is the leader of the Whitesnake choir, David Coverdale. He has been a hard rock staple for decades, first fronting Deep Purple back in the early 1970's before forming the Snakes' in 1978.  A decade later the band broke through on a massive level with their self-titled release, an album that spawned a string of radio hits like "Give Me All Your Love", "Is This Love" and of course, "Here I Go Again".  


Tommy Aldridge

David Coverdale


David Coverdale

I fell in love hard with late 80's Whitesnake (posters in my locker and all) and appreciate how well their music stands the test of time. Camden was on their feet as Coverdale and the rest of the snakes barreled through all of their radio hits plus "Bad Boys", "Slide It In", "Crying in the Rain", "Love Ain't No Stranger" and more. It was an hour-long slice of headbanger heaven for anyone that came of age when stonewash was the denim of choice and leather jackets included fringe. 

David Coverdale

Coverdale's voice is a bit strained at times but after 30+ years of belting out those high notes and animalistic screams, it's no wonder. He still pulls you in and grabs you, then the tightness of the band keeps you on lockdown. As always, Whitesnake ended with their crown jewel (for true rock fans) "Still of the Night".  When played full out, it's an eight-minute song that gives you the very best of the entire band and thank god Camden's audience soaked up everything the guys were leaving on the stage. 


David Coverdale

Just as the vibe changed for Whitesnake, that same energy shifted once again when Foreigner began to play. While the two previous acts certainly had their share of fans, it was abundantly clear that this crowd was THERE for Foreigner. Unnecessary bathroom runs ceased and so did most side conversations as all attention was this band that has been consistently rocking for forty-one years. No, Lou Gramm didn't make a surprise appearance and more importantly, he didn't need to. 

Kelly Hansen & Chris Frazier

Kelly Hansen can more than handle the vocals originally laid down by Gramm and he also brings something extra to enhance them. As a front man, Hansen has always been a favorite of mine because he just loses any hint of inhibition while reaching every far corner of whatever room or venue he is in. 

Kelly Hansen

Kelly Hansen

Mick Jonesfounder, and architect of Foreigner, still plays and entertains like a virtuoso half of his age. If this band is a family then Jones is the father and watching him, watch the rest of the band play is kind of cool. He looks intermittently impressed by and proud of the talent beside him. 

Mick Jones

Michael Bluestein, Tom Gimbel & Mick Jones


Tom Gimbel & Mick Jones

As the band burned through classics like "Head Games", "Cold as Ice", "Double Vision", and "Long, Long Way from Home" bassist Jeff Pilson and guitarist Bruce Watson seemed to have a great time not only playing off of each other but messing with each other as they crisscrossed the stage.  
The keys are a huge part of Foreigner's sound and Michael Bluestein makes it all look pretty effortless on "Waiting for a Girl Like You" and "Feels Like the First Time". Equally effortless is Chris Frazier who appears to have been born with drumsticks in hand and a huge smile on his face. 

Mick Jones & Jeff Pilson

Bruce Watson

"Urgent" was, of course, an audience favorite in Camden and really, how could it not be? Tom Gimbel (read his interview here) spent the earlier part of the night on guitar before trading that in for his saxophone. Gimbel later told me that this was the best night (so far) of the tour for his sax solo and it showed. The brass attack was insane and you could just see the entire band connecting with each other and then the audience as well. It was eight minutes of rock heaven and if you were lucky enough to be in the crowd, you knew that you had just received a musical gift that doesn't happen that often. 

Tom Gimbel

Mick Jones & Tom Gimbel


Tom Gimbel

 Keeping music in the schools has been a mission of Foreigner's for many years now and they always bring a local community choir onstage to sing "I Wanna Know What Love Is". Hansen does a fantastic job of lovingly uniting the audience and the band beforehand so that by the time the background groove turns into the actual song it's pretty chilling. Adding a choir halfway through just takes it to another level. 


Watson, Jones, Pilson, Bluestein, Frazier, Hansen, Gimbel

The Juke Box Heroes Tour still has 20+ cities to visit this summer and you can get more information on dates and tickets here. 










Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Evening Setlist:

Immigrant Song
Good Times, Bad Times
The Ocean
Over the Hills and Far Away
Thank You
Whole Lotta Love
Rock and Roll
Stairway to Heaven

Whitesnake Setlist:

Bad Boys
Give Me All Your Love
Love Ain't No Stranger
Slow an' Easy
Guitar Duel
Crying in the Rain
Is This Love
Slide It In
Here I Go Again
Still of the Night

Foreigner's Setlist:

Long, Long Way From Home
Double Vision
Head Games
Cold as Ice
Waiting for a Girl Like You
Dirty White Boy
Feels Like the First Time
Urgent
Starrider
Juke Box Hero

Encore:
I Want to Know What Love Is
Hot Blooded

1 comment:

  1. kAYE AND I SAW YOU IN RALEIGH AND YOU TOOK OUR BREATH AWAY AGAIN!YOU AND THE BOYS PUT ON A DYNAMITE SHOW AND WE THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF OUR HEARTS. TILL WE MEET AGAIN, WE LOVE YOU MISSMO

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