PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
The Classic Rock Show performed at Lynn Auditorium.
By BILL BROTHERTON
LYNN — The Classic Rock Show is billed as “the ultimate live jukebox.” Truer words have never been spoken.
Thursday night at Lynn Auditorium, an 8-piece band played just-like-the-record versions of some of classic rock’s greatest hits. The A-Z of Rock World Tour 2017 included AC/DC to Zeppelin and ZZ Top and nearly everything in between.
Three strong vocalists (Rudy Cardenas, Johnny West and Emily Jollands), two fiery guitarists (James Cole and Howie G) who played licks off of practically every record that mattered to the baby boomer crowd, keyboardist Henry Burnett, and a tight rhythm section of Wayne Banks (bass) and Karl Penney (drums) wowed the crowd for just short of three hours.
The Led Zeppelin classic “Whole Lotta Love” kicked off the night in hard-rocking fashion, with Cardenas replicating Robert Plant’s feral howls and Howie G. aping Jimmy Page’s solos, wielding his gold Gibson Les Paul like a weapon. Cardenas also aced his Freddie Mercury vocal on “One Vision,” not the Queen song I would’ve chosen (“Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Killer Queen,” “Tie Your Mother Down”) but that’s a mere quibble.
West took the mic for a high-octane blast through Deep Purple’s “Highway Star,” miraculously hitting those otherworldly Ian Gillan high notes. Memories raced through my head: It was 1972 again and my buds and I were headed into town to see the metal giants at the old Garden, passing around a bottle of Boone’s Farm apple wine we’d smuggled onto the train.
The set list likely brought back similar memories for the mostly AARP-eligible audience. One gent proudly wore a sweatshirt that boasted “I may be old but I got to see all the cool bands”; last night’s clad-in-black octet was a better-than-expected facsimile of those classic bands. The evening was a smile-inducing, headbanging nostalgia trip, with the band reeling in the years, just like The Dan would proclaim.
It was one hit after another. Journey’s “Separate Ways,” the Doors’ “Riders on the Storm” (awesome!), Zep’s “Stairway to Heaven” and a wondrous acoustic run-through of “Going to California,” ZZ Top’s “La Grange,” Wings’ “Live and Let Die,” Kansas’ “Carry on My Wayward Son,” Dire Straits’ “Money For Nothing” (with the iconic MTV video shown on a screen at the rear of the stage), Eagles’ “Hotel California,” AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” and on and on.
Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac (“Oh Well”) segued into Stevie Nicks-era Fleetwood Mac (“Rhiannon,” with the underused Jollands singing lead). The night’s least-known song, Gary Moore’s ferocious “Still Got the Blues,” was one of the night’s best and showcased to great effect the talents of singer West, guitarist Howie G and guitarist Cole, who coxed splendid sounds from his Plaistow, N.H.,-made Fractal Audio guitar amp and a series of axes.
The band smartly rocked a spot-on cover of “More Than a Feeling” by local heroes Boston (that band’s guitarist Barry Goudreau of Swampscott will bring his new band to the Auditorium on April 22). Indeed: “So many people have come and gone/Their faces fade as the years go by/Yet I still recall as I wander on/As clear as the sun in the summer sky/It’s more than a feeling.”
And former Swampscott resident/then-baby-faced David Lee Roth was represented by “Jump,” the Van Halen classic. The encore was sublime: Skynyrd’s “Freebird” and The Who’s still relevant “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”
The music of the ‘60s and ‘70s truly was the best; I feel sorry for the current generation that’s force-fed execrable, overproduced pap that will likely be forgotten in five years let alone five decades from now.
No Stones? No Kinks? No Creedence? No problem! The Classic Rock Show was a blast.
Bill Brotherton is The Item’s Feature Editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.