Day Two of Moondance Jam Brings Steady Heat, Spotty Rain and Classic Rock
Two-thirds into the Northwoods music festival known as Moondance Jam, the buzz in the crowd centered around staying cool and John Fogerty's setlist.
As the temps soared into the upper 80's, the sound of air conditioners and generators filled the otherwise musical air in the campgrounds. Fewer clothes and more beers seemed to be the tactic employed by most Moondancers on Friday afternoon.
By 3, most had struck up the courage to venture onto the blazing hot main stage grounds to rock out with cover band Them Pesky Kids. Built from several accomplished musicians that have toured and played with everyone from Zakk Wyld to Blackfoot and Steven Tyler, TPK ran the gamut of their repertoire for a little over an hour. Taking on songs by Muse, Buckcherry and even KISS, they received a hearty applause at the end.
Next up were relative new-comers Cavo, a St. Louis mainstay, rocking what has been called a post-grunge hard rock sound. Moondance has successfully brought a mixture of genres to the stage this year, and the addition of melodic rockers like Hinder and Three Days Grace really give you a feel for the direction rock is heading.
Cavo thrilled their fans with a blood and guts version of the song that launched their career; Champagne. Launching into the rowdy Thick As Thieves and the explosive Crash, they displayed a unique energy that bands with more experience seem to cast off in favor of just walking through their hits. Their set, energy and sound were reminiscent of late 90's live performances by Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots and Pearl Jam.
An oft-used strategy by Moondance organizers was apparent more this year than ever; alternating well-established classic rockers with relatively new bands, intertwined with a cadre of up-and-coming rockers. New rockers Cavo gave way to guitar legend Don Felder. As one of The Eagles, Felder created some of the most recognizable riffs and solos in all of rock history.
Surprisingly, he opened his show with Hotel California. Using the signature double-necked 12/6 string guitar, the opening licks had the crowd going wild immediately, with several festival-goers running into the grounds when they heard the first notes. Changing out four different guitars (both Gibson and Fender) during his hour and a half set, it was like being at an Eagles concert. Running through a dozen of the Eagles' biggest hits, he also tossed in two new songs from his forthcoming October release. In addition, Felder and his amazingly tight band laid out Stevie Ray Vaughn's Pride And Joy and a personal favorite of mine, Heavy Metal (Hitchin' A Ride). The highlights included a vocally pristine rendition of Seven Bridges Road, the closer; Life In The Fast Lane and an encore of Take It Easy.
Don's singing was as you would expect, since he sang harmony in The Eagles, virtually flawless. His voice soared through the lyrics as if he were channeling the other members of his frequently troubled former band, while lending his own sound to them. His band was comprised of similar-voiced perfection, nailing the harmonies for each song.
Afterwards, as he made his way back to a meet and greet, he stopped along the backstage barriers to shake hands, sign autographs and chat with fans. Even as a light rain began to fall, he made it a point to pose for several hastily framed fan photos, until a security guard whisked him away.
Melodic rockers Three Days Grace have been doing shows about once a week since the beginning of their tour in June, making Moondance just the 6th live show they've done this year. Although seasoned road rockers, the performance was like it was their first show on the tour, working the crowd several times during the performance, and interacting with each other on stage like they were teens at a battle of the bands. It's obvious the Canadian boys were feeding off the vibe from the appreciative crowd.
Fists in the air and scantily-clad young women were the most common sight during their hour and 15 minute set that included I Hate Everything About You, Animal I Have Become and Never Too Late. Lost In You got a particularly loud applause as did their new songs from the forthcoming album "Transit Of Venus."
Most of the Jammers Friday night were awaiting the return of one of the most electrifying performers in recent Moondance memory. John Fogerty jumped onto stage just after 11 and launched into Creedence Clearwater Revival fav Hey Tonight. He's a story-teller, no doubt, regaling the crowd with the inspiration for the song Who'll Stop The Rain. He recounted CCR's performance at another legendary outdoor festival, Woodstock. "We were gettin' ready to play and it was rainin', " he said, " and I looked out over the crowd of thousands and I didn't see one umbrella!".
The first set was flush with CCR tunes and a few solo tracks like Hot Rod Heart from the album "Blue Moon Swamp". Halfway through, he threw the crowd a curve ball; covering Roy Orbison's Pretty Woman. It received one of the loudest receptions of the Jam so far. Though he did roll-out two selections (Rock & Roll Girls and Old Man Down The Road) off what is his most popular album, "Centerfield", he did not play the title track. In viewing set lists from his recently completed European tour, that song was noticeably absent. One wonders if Fogerty just dislikes the song, or if he feels we've heard it enough. I for one, agree with the latter. A hard-charged and revved-up take on Fortunate Son seemed to strain Fogerty's voice a bit, but he recovered nicely with the closer Up Around The Bend and the encore of Proud Mary.
His playing was vibrant and meticulous, often venturing off the map for solos. The band as a unit provided a solid core for John's songs. CCR and Fogerty lovers alike seemed more than happy with the performance, as the crowd continued to chat about the set during their departure from the grounds.