By Thomas S. Orwat, Jr.
Batavia, NY – After an unexpected 18 month break between reviewing concerts, I returned to see my first post pandemic show. And what a great show it was! Not only for my return back, but for many of the 1000 plus in the audience on this warm, humid, overcast evening.
This night was originally scheduled to be a Vince Neil concert, however it was announced 9 days prior that Vince Neil cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. But, within hours, it was announced that Mark Farner’s American Band would be replacing Vince Neil. Credit goes to the promoters at the Batavia Downs for bringing in such an outstanding replacement on such short notice.
Mark Farner, the 72 year old former member of the multi-platinum Michigan based trio -Grand Funk Railroad, was an integral part of the band. During his time in Grand Funk Railroad, as guitarist/vocalist/songwriter (from 1969–76, 1981–83, 1996–98), Farner was responsible for writing over 90% of the band’s material, including their Billboard hits, “I’m Your Captain (Closer to Home).” and “Bad Time,” the latter being the most played song on American radio in 1976.
Farner kicked off the show with a rowdy, “Are You Ready.” Even through Farner has only played a handful of shows since the Covid -19 pandemic shut the world down, on this evening he was spot on vocally and his phenomenal, unique guitar work was flawless. The 14-song setlist kept the smiles on the faces of the live-music starved crowd all evening long.
In addition to the dynamic rock legend Mark Farner, Mark Farner’s American Band consists of seasoned musicians Hubert Crawford- drums, Paul Randolph – bass, and Bernie Palo – keyboards. Some of the many highlights of the show included a very entertaining drum and percussion solo that featured Farner drumming along with Crawford and a jaw dropping performance of the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young classic “Ohio.”
The evening closed with an intense, passionate rendition of the Grand Funk Railroad epic hit, “I’m Your Captain (Closer to Home).” This song remains one of the greatest classic rock songs of all time. During this performance, Farner dedicated this song to all the past and present members of the military.
Farner’s performance was fantastic and it truly was a great welcome back to seeing live concerts. If you get a chance to see him, you must go!
The Batavia Downs “Rockin’ the Downs” concert series will feature ex-Journey vocalist Steve Augeri on this Friday, June 25th. To see the other great shows coming to the Batavia Downs, Batavia, NY please click here
Setlist – 06-18-2021
Are You Ready
Rock & Roll Soul
We’re an American Band
Drum and Percussion Sol
Sin’s a Good Man’s Brother
Drum and Percussion Solo
Some Kind of Wonderful
I’m Your Captain (Closer to Home)
For more on Mark Farner’s American Band, please visit www.markfarner.com
Check out my exclusive interview with Mark Farner here.