Sonic Perspectives

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Sammy Hagar And The Circle @ Hard Rock Event Center, Hollywood (September 15th, 2018)

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It is hard to believe rocker Sammy Hagar is 71 years old. The ever-energetic and still youthful-looking singer/songwriter/guitarist and his band The Circle took the stage at the Hard Rock Event Center in Hollywood, on September 15, 2018. The show had no opening act, and started with an opening video sequence showing Hagar solo stints and clips of “I Can’t Drive 55,” along with bombastic Van Halen footage, Cabo Wabo and his recent band Chickenfoot. The band started the proceedings with the power anthem, “There’s Only One Way to Rock”, with Sammy playing a black, winged guitar. “Poundcake” from his Van Halen years and kickass covers of Zeppelin’s “Good Times, Bad Times” and “Rock Candy” from Hagar’s Montrose days in the early 1970s raised the crowd’s excitement and engagement to frenzy levels.

Joining Hagar in The Circle we had Vic Johnson – longtime Waboritas guitarist , his partner in crime since the Van Halen years – also Chickenfoot‘s member -, Michael Anthony on the four strings, and Jason Bonham – son of the late and legendary Zeppelin drummer John Bonham – on the drumkit. The set-list was made of a variety of songs, ranking from Sammy‘s solo career, Montrose, Van Halen, and included the Chickenfoot’s cover “Sexy Little Thing,” which Hagar said the band had never played live before. Sammy sounded as good as ever, with Anthony is still hitting the high notes he’s known for, and Jason pounding the drums merciless. Everyone was standing, and stayed standing for the show’s hour and 20-plus minutes.

Van Halen fans had their moment around mid-show, when the band performed a double-shot of comprised by the anthemic “Right Now” and “Why Can’t This Be Love?” with Anthony and Hagar singing face to face. Another Zeppelin song, “When the Levee Breaks” had everyone cheering loudly, with Johnson masterfully playing the solo on a Gibson double-neck guitar. Introducing his bandmates, Hagar explained, “We are The Circle; and we plays songs from our whole life.”

In true rock star fashion, Sammy interacted with the audience, sharing a bottle of what looked his specialty rum with front row guests, after taking a big swig himself, scene that repeated when he brought some tequila to the audience, just before the band jumped into “Mas Tequila”. Anthony, not wanting to be left out, took a healthy chug straight from the bottle while the whole venue shouted, clapped and sang along. Towards the end of the show, Sammy spoke to the audience about the band not playing encores. This originates from the Cabo Wabo Cantina days, he explained: “There’s no need for an encore. The band simply plays until they can’t play anymore.” He made this statement as he led into a solo guitar version of “Where Eagles Fly”.

Finally, the band ended a downright fantastic, and energetic Saturday night with a roaring cover of  Zep‘s “Rock and Roll”. and Hagar thanking the fans with a heartfelt “Thank you for allowing me to do this my whole life!”  The audience certainly left wanting even more, there was electricity in the air as concertgoers exited the venue. Sammy looks great, sounds great and keeps enjoying playing, showing no signs of slowing down. I will drink to him returning to the Florida stages sooner than later.

SETLIST

There’s Only One Way to Rock / Poundcake (Van Halen cover) / Good Times Bad Times (Led Zeppelin cover) / Rock Candy (Montrose cover) / I Can’t Drive 55 / Sexy Little Thing (Chickenfoot cover) / Right Now (Van Halen cover) / Why Can’t This Be Love (Van Halen cover) / Blues Jam / Little White Lie / Step Away From The Game / Mas Tequila / Where Eagles Fly / When It’s Love (Van Halen cover) / Rock and Roll (Led Zeppelin cover)

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