Lewiston, NY – All day long, it looked as if the highly anticipated Sammy Hagar show at Artpark could be in jeopardy. It was an unseasonably cold evening, with a few massive nimbus clouds lingering above. But, the only storm that the 9,000+ faithful rockers witnessed, was the rock ‘n roll thunder, provided by classic rock hero, Sammy Hagar, and his incredible band, consisting of ex-Van Halen bassist- Michael Anthony, drummer- Jason Bonham (Led Zeppelin circa 2007), and guitarist- Vic Johnson.
Hagar hit the stage shortly after 8pm, and played an effective 90-minute set of classics from his incredible 40+ year career. His setlist consisted of hits from his time in Van Halen, his solo career, a Montrose classic, and several Led Zeppelin songs. The first song of the evening, ”There’s Only One Way to Rock,” was the perfect opener, and set the tone for the rest of the night.
What is incredible about Hagar (the self proclaimed “Red Rocker”), is the fact that he is 66 years of age, and is worth over 75 million dollars. He does not need to go out on tour, but he does it solely for the pure enjoyment of performing. And, he really seemed happy to be playing at Artpark. He was all smiles, and appeared thrilled to be performing with his former partner in crime in Van Halen, Michael Anthony. The two of them have a great deal of chemistry together. Anthony’s back up vocals are the perfect accompaniment to that of Hagar’s. This was especially apparent on the Van Halen tracks, “Why Can’t This Be Love,” and, “Right Now.”
Anthony also had the spotlight all to himself, for a bass solo, five songs into the performance. While Anthony is a very solid bassist, he isn’t a bass god by any means. His solo was just like the spotlight solos he did while in Van Halen, where he would bang around his bass, and make as much noise as possible. Anthony seemed to be really into it. So, I say, let him have his fun- he has definitely earned that right. The only thing that was a little odd, was that the band followed the solo up with the slower, “When It’s Love,” and immediately lost all the energy and momentum provided by Anthony’s solo. They may want to rethink that part of their setlist.
Anthony wasn’t the only one that had an instrumental solo; Bonham and Johnson also had their time in the spotlight as well. Jason Bonham had the crowd in complete awe with his mind-blowing drum solo. During the solo, he played along to a video of his father, the late John Bonham, performing the Led Zeppelin classic, “Moby Dick.” While some children of famous musicians try to distance themselves from their parents and forge their own identity, Jason Bonham has no problem living in the shadow of his amazing father. But, Bonham is almost to the point of being equal in his ability to that of his father. At the end of his solo, Bonham received a deserving, heartfelt standing ovation.
Vic Johnson’s guitar solo towards the end of the set was an impressive demonstration of his guitar shredding skills. He certainly is a good guitarist, and did a great job all evening long, playing the licks and riffs of two of the greatest guitar players in rock music history, Jimmy Page and Eddie Van Halen.
Even with three amazing musicians surrounding him, the hero of the evening was Hagar. His voice is still, if not better, than ever. This show, at times, felt like a Van Halen show; or as fans referred to the Van Halen/Hager era- “Van Hagar.” In addition to the Van Hagar material, Hagar did an amazing job on the somewhat challenging Led Zeppelin songs. As a matter of fact, Hagar should consider joining up with Jimmy Page, and do a tour of Led Zeppelin classics. I don’t think anyone else could possibility do a better job than Hagar.
This was another amazing Artpark summer show. But, there are still four more left this summer. You can purchase tickets for the remaining shows by clicking here.
There’s Only One Way to Rock
Good Times Bad Times
I Can’t Drive 55
When It’s Love
Whole Lotta Love
Little White Lie
When the Levee Breaks
Why Can’t This Be Love
Finish What Ya Started
Best of Both Worlds
Rock and Roll
Special thanks to Maria Hayes for the press credentials and our own Dana Kaiser.