Charlotte, 2009- An evening with Chickenfoot....
On Thursday, August 27, Lee and I rolled up to Charlotte a night early to catch us a Chickenfoot show. In case you don't know who that is, it's the new supergroup consisting of Chad Smith, Joe Satriani, Michael Anthony and the Red Rocker himself, Mr. Sammy Hagar. From the first second these four guys hit the stage, the vibe was "old school" and when I say that, I mean there were no in- ear monitors- they were all on the floor, like in the old days and the band drank beer onstage, again like in the days of our youth. They're so cool, even Brad Whitford of Aerosmith got up with them and jammed! Sammy's a 62 year- old ball of energy and there are a lot of current frontmen that should invest in watching this cat so that they could learn how it's done right. Joe's playing is, of course technically superior, yet sublime in this particular setting- he fits in more than he sticks out and that's the perfect thing to do in order to make this band work as well as it does. Chad Smith is a huge dude; I mean he's as tall or taller than Lee and a bombast on the kit. He even got his Keith Moon on at the end of the night by kicking his drum kit over and I'll bet that during the course of the show, he must have thrown no less than 15 drum sticks out into the crowd. Just classic, I tell you!
Now to Michael Anthony. As a bass player of about 22 years, I've watched and admired this guy for a long time both for his playing ability and killer, high range vocals. He managed to hold down the low end for years behind one Eddie Van Halen and still seemed to find those perfect spots to thrown in a run or cool lick just when the song needed it. His tone has been great from the first note of the first album and he is very obviously responsible for the "sound" of Van Halen's unforgettable background vocals on every one of their classic albums. That said, he was dumped by the Van Halen brothers as their great reunion tour was coming together last year and replaced by a 15 year- old dumpling who just happened to be Eddie's kid. This reporter feels that this was a bullcrap, cheap move and huge mistake by the Van Halen camp; It was made crystal clear to all in attendance on August 27th when 'ol Mike roared out onto that stage, still playing his Yamaha basses and just tearing the place down! He didn't miss a note all night and the vocals are still there, high and familiar to those of us that loved old Van Halen. So, here's a huge Cabo Wabo toast to Chickenfoot and especially Sammy Hagar for realizing who the real foundation of Van Halen was and for bringing him along. I'd say that makes you a genius, Sam!