Photographs by Lee-Ann Wylie
After Bad Company set an unbelievingly high bar, the stage was changed over and all amps turned were “12” for Lynyrd Skynyrd!
The band, with its three guitar army, hit the stage. Lead by Gary Rossington, (leader and the only original member) it started the evening off with “Call me the Breeze” (J.J. Cale cover) followed by “What’s your name” and “Gimme Back My Bullets”. Each band mate demanded the audience’s attention by calling out for people to sing, “get off their asses” and wild stage antics.
I would like to make special mention about Rossington, who survived the October 20th 1977, plane crash near Gillsburg, Mississippi, that killed six men (pilot, co-pilot, assistant tour manager, and three band members).He broke both arms, both legs, both wrists, both ankles and his pelvis. He recovered from his injuries and made sure Lynyrd Skynyrd continued. Nothing held this man back!
The guitar trio of Rickey Medlocke (Blackfoot frontman/guitarist), Mark Matejka (Charlie Daniels Band/guitarist) and Rossington did not disappoint, with their “in your face” Southern Rock licks. Other hits like, “That Smell”, “You Got That Right”, “Saturday Night Special” followed. They made no secret of their patriotism and support for the military. They also paid special homage to their home town.
Filling out the band was bassist Johnny Colt (Black Crowes), drummer Michael Cartellone (Damn Yankees), keyboardist Peter Keys, and Lead Vocalist Johnny Van Zant (big brother was original front man Ronnie Van Zant, who died in the ’77 plane crash). The backing vocals were performed by two women, one being Gary Rossington’s wife , Dale Krantz-Rossington. The other singer was Carol Chase.
Singer or not, the almost all band members mouthed the words to every song! The 12 song set list was rounded out with “Simple Man” (dedicated to the U.S Military with videos of the troops were projected behind them), “Tuesday’s Gone”, “Gimme Three Steps” and ending off with “Sweet Home Alabama”. They gave the crowd exactly what they expected.
The band returned for the encore with, can anyone guess what that song was? Yes, it was “Free Bird”…what else?! It is not only the perfect closer for the band, it’s the only closer! The band rocked the Southern Anthem like no one else can.
The band also gave special attention to their fallen band mates with their names and photos on the screen behind them. Members like keyboardist Billy Powell and Ronnie Van Zant, along with the names Leon, Billy, Steve, Allen, Ean, Jojo, Dean, Hughie and Cassie. It was touching to see them pay special attention.
This was a chance to see a great band and 2 legendary bands celebrate 40 years of music! Put this on your must see list!!