Sammy Hagar & The Circle | October 28, 2023 |The Sound, Clearwater, FL
On a beautiful Saturday evening in along the waterfront I went to see Sammy Hagar perform at The Sound, a new venue that just opened a few months ago. To say that the venue’s location is spectacular with the views it offers is an understatement. Add in some great rock and roll on a weekend night when Florida summer’s heat has relented enough to where it is enjoyable to be outside and feel the breeze off of the water and we patrons in attendance were in for a treat with a fantastic lineup.
This was my second time going to a show at this new venue. The sight lines are fantastic from every angle, I spent a good deal of time checking that out my first time here back in August. The lawn general admission area is spacious and almost does not look like it could possibly hold more capacity than the seated area, but combined the venue holds nine thousand and it was jam packed sold out for a lineup of artists that would be my first time seeing them each this evening.
Local blues-rock legend Damon Fowler opened the show but was only allotted a few minutes to perform. With ten studio releases under his belt and collaboration credits working with the giants of literally almost every musical genre, I was excited to see him perform. Even though he has played locally around the area over the years I have never seen him play or was familiar with any of his music. While this was not a long performance I am definitely a fan of what I heard and he definitely has some serious talent as a guitarist.
George Thorogood & the Destroyers took the stage next and with sixteen studio albums of material to pull the set list from I was wondering how much of their material I would recognize and I had never indulged beyond what I have heard on the radio (and MTV back in the day). Let me just say that this seventy three year old king of boogie rock still has the fire in his veins to come out and kick our as with a fantastic nine song sixty minute set. After the fact I was amazed to find out that one if his biggest his is actually a cover, ‘One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer’ was written by Rudy Toombs and recorded by Amos Milburn in 1953. The crowd was very interactive with many people up dancing in the areas by their seats and the lawn section was already almost entirely filled by the time my three songs ended and I wandered to the back. All of he expected his were played and of course, the final song, ‘Bad to the Bone’ had everyone up on their feet and singing along.
Then it was time for the headliner of the evening and wow what a show this band put on. Sammy Hagar is backed by his longtime band The Circle: bassist, former Van Halen band mate Michael Anthony, guitarist Vic Johnson and drummer Jason Bonham. Sammy just celebrated his seventy sixth birthday a couple of weeks ago and does not show a bit of that in any way. He looks great, sounds amazing, still kicks ass as an axe slinger and is a complete showman interacting and having fun with the crowd. With twenty six studio releases across solo, Van Halen, Montrose, Chickenfoot and various other side projects, I knew we were in for a greatest hits set and let me tell you, the chosen set list did not disappoint.
As always, my three songs behind the lens went by too fast and one of them was for my favorite Van Hagar era song, ‘Poundcake’, with Sammy playing the drill intro so that was a treat to hear. Another highlight for me was hearing the Montrose song, ‘Bad Motor Scooter’ as that is my “guess who this is singing” song. Those of my friends not I the know when I shared the song had no clue that was a young Sammy finding his chops in the mid 1970s, and to this day he still has that golden, unwavering voice and is in no need of the crowd to carry the tunes for him.
The evening could not have been more perfect, with an amazing sunset just before Damon Fowler hit the stage, a great constant cool breeze and a sold out crowd, it was a night of some great of the great rock and roll of my youth. The accumulative years of rock history with the various band members on that stage this evening was nothing short of amazing. I would also like to note that whoever is in charge of the sound at the venue deserves a raise. That was my second show there and both of them have sounded absolutely fantastic from every vantage point that I have set foot in during a show.
A quick Chief Metal Officer note here, this show put me on the cusp of my one thousandth set I have seen over the years that I knowingly can confirm. Sammy Hagar & The Circle brought the count to nine hundred and ninety nine going back to 1984. It was a fun night, I got to see some of my friends and couple of acquaintances I had not seen for a little while. That is a great venue and I look forward to my next show there, whenever that is!