Sammy Hagar & The Circle rolled into Orlando this week for two shows as part of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts’ Frontyard Festival. All Music Magazine was on scene to cover the evening’s event at the impressive outdoor venue. The expansive “frontyard” played host to a large number of strategically placed pods that were to serve as the viewing platforms for tonight’s audience. Large palm trees stood proudly, and added to the overall ambience. The stage was nestled within a colorful, illuminated backdrop and was flanked on both sides by large projection screens, allowing for enhanced viewing. The attentive staff was busy throughout the night, providing food and drinks to patrons.
Sammy Hagar & The Circle were formed in 2014, but to have a better understanding of who they are we need to go back a little further. In fact, we need to go way back. Sammy Hagar got his start as the frontman for the band Montrose in the early 70s. He then went out on his own and was known by the moniker “The Red Rocker”. After a lucrative solo career he joined the Van Halen lineup as a replacement for David Lee Roth. His talent was rewarded in 2007 when he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Legendary bassist, Michael Anthony, was a member of Van Halen for more than 30 years and is also a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Lead guitarist, Vic Johnson, has more than 40 years in the music business and previously played with Hagar as a member of the Waboritas. Jason Bonham has been playing drums since he was 5 years old. Being the son of Led Zeppelin‘s legendary percussionist, John Bonham, this should come as no surprise. Jason possesses a resume that would make any musician proud. It seems only likely that these four musical greats would come together to create this rock and roll juggernaut.
I was lucky enough to have seen Sammy Hagar 5 or 6 times back in the 80s, including two appearances at the iconic Rock Super Bowl series that were held at the old Tangerine Bowl in Orlando. If there was one thing that I learned from these experiences, it’s that concert and party are synonymous when it comes to Sammy Hagar. Tonight would prove to be no different.
The band hit the stage at 7:45 pm and kicked the party off by launching into “There’s Only One Way To Rock.” Sammy broke out the tequila and rum shortly thereafter, and the show resumed full speed ahead. Michael Anthony and Vic Johnson were clearly enjoying themselves as they played directly to the appreciative crowd. If I had to describe Jason Bonham’s performance, it would have to be “beastlike”. It’s a great adjective to use, especially since his father’s first biography was titled “Beast.” The 22 song setlist was not only impressive, but built to please. From Van Halen favorites such as “Poundcake”, “Top of the World” and “Right Now” to Hagar originals like “I Can’t Drive 55” , “Heavy Metal” and “Your Love is Driving Me Crazy,” this show had something for everyone.
The band took time to recognize a fan that has attended 181 Sammy Hagar concerts. The fan was rewarded, appropriately, with a shot of rum. Hagar also took time to autograph items tossed on stage by fans and paid homage to another fan that was celebrating her birthday. That fan was treated to a shot of her choice. Despite all the drinking going on, Florida resident Bonham declined to partake, saying he had become an Olympic drinker. After the laughter subsided, Motley Crue’s Vince Neil, made a surprise appearance and helped belt out an incendiary rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll.” Just when I thought things couldn’t get any better, the band blew the metaphorical roof off with performances of “Heavy Metal” and “Mas Tequila” before closing things out with an encore comprised of ‘Affirmation” and David Bowie’s “Heroes.” Do yourself a favor and check out the band’s upcoming tour dates and add it to your calendar, you won’t be disappointed.
Sammy Hagar – Lead Vocals/Guitar
Michael Anthony – Bass
Jason Bonham – Drums
Vic Johnson – Lead Guitar
There’s Only One Way to Rock
Trust Fund Baby
Three Lock Box
I Can’t Drive 55
Little White Lie
Finish What You Started
Top of the World
Your Love is Driving Me Crazy
Why Can’t This Be Love
Rock N’ Roll
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I’ve had a love for photography since I was young. Whether it was a Polaroid or a Kodak 110, I was always the kid with the camera. My love of music goes back even further. Nothing beats being at a show when those lights go down and the crowd goes nuts.