Announced last March, the Rock & Roll Express Tour, co-headlined by 3 Doors Down and Collective Soul, with support by Soul Asylum is a 36-city North American run that will roll through mid-September crisscrossing the country, and the event made its third stop at The Mizner Park Amphitheater in Boca Raton, Florida on July 10th 2018. This upscale venue, surrounded by shops, restaurants, coffee shops and bars is the perfect place for a kick-ass midweek concert, and despite the sunshine state’s weather this time of year is always a roll of the dice, the concert gods were smiling upon us. While a warm summer night, the looming clouds stayed away and the show went on.
Once described by L.A. Times as “some unholy mix of Kiss and Hank Williams thrown under the wheels of a runaway train” Soul Asylum set the night in motion, despite a really short 5 songs set. Their energy on stage was enough to get the crowd into the right frame of mind for the evening’s headliner with lots of audience’s participation when they played their biggest hit, “Runaway Train”. Dave Pirner had great fun with the audience making jokes, jesting one-liners and even throwing out a center stage kneeling guitar jam with his partner-in-crime Ryan Smith.
With Soul Asylum effectively breaking the ice, Collective Soul took to the stage next. A much energized, flamboyant, hat wearing Ed Roland came out guns a blazing and ready to rock. Their set – including several of the award-winning hits from their triple platinum, self-titled album – was reminiscent of a southern jam band spectacle, in some instances reminding me of the Allman Brothers type sound. Ed Roland spoke to the fans quite a bit, even mentioning being “not too far south from here” when referencing their recording of an album at the world famous Criteria Studios in Miami, and led the crowd singalong during several moments of the set, especially during their staple hit “Shine”. Guitarist Dean Roland and Jesse Triplette’s added layers of sound, balanced-out by Ed on acoustic, and Triplette’s pyrotechnics over the fret-board got the audience cheering every time. By the time Collective Soul finished their last note, they had me thinking I had just watched the headliner. Their performance was THAT good.
With the sun now under the horizon, and the crowd basking in the glow of a summer moon over South Florida, 3 Doors Down came on to close out the evening. The Mississippi rock band has been captivating audiences around the world for nearly two decades. With 20 million albums sold globally, they rose to fame with their song “Kryptonite” in 2000 and if you don’t know what that song is, I wonder if you were living under a rock at that time. The stage – displaying several LED panels – exhibited the Rock & Roll Express Tour logo along its entire width, and the band got into business with one of my personal favorites from their catalog, “Duck and Run”. Old Glory was also prominently presented on the stage as we have come to expect at a 3 Doors Down show, with the patriotism further enhanced by guitarist Chris Henderson’s stars and stripes guitar strap with matching footwear. Singer Brad Arnold, sounded just as good as ever, with Chet, Chris and Justin taking turns to climb on the to bottom lit platform at either side of the stage to prominently display their musical talent. Notable hits “Be Like That” and “Let Me Go” vibrated in the airwaves, with the night coming to a delightful closing through an encore comprised by a double punch of two all-time hits “Here Without You” and “When I’m Gone.”
If you are a fan of some good American rock & roll, this is a tour you certainly do not want to miss. An arsenal of well-known classics performed by three of the most successful rock acts of the last 20 years definitely warrants for a memorable night. Do you need a better reason to jump on this train and enjoy the ride? All aboard the Rock N’ Roll Express!
Soul Asylum Set-List
Collective Soul Set-List
3 Doors Down Set-List
Encore: Here Without You / When I’m Gone