Monday, April 22, 2019

WAR: Concert Review (Arcada Theatre, Saturday, April 20, 2019)

What a FUN night of musical entertainment!

From soulful start (warm-up act Sam Savage) to funky finish (headliners War), this show served up a delightful dish of variety that had the crowd up on its feet for the majority of the show.

Sadly, it was a smallish crowd ... and that's a shame ... because this was an extremely fun show to watch ... and this one should have been packed to the gills!  (Your loss if you missed it ... don't let it happen again!)

Savage performed with his three-piece back-up band (that sounded like a group twice that size), playing a variety of well-known pop and soul hits from the '60's and '70's ... 

Tracks made famous by the likes of Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Al Green and more ... but NOTHING prepared us for the show-stopping finish of his killer rendition of the Sam Cooke classic "A Change Is Gonna Come," which brought the house down.  (Prior to launching into the tune, Sam said "I'd like to play a request ... for me ... because this is my all-time favorite song."  It was as good as any live vocal I have ever seen.)

Savage will be back at The Arcada on May 11th, opening for Morris Day and the Time ... and then, immediately after his main stage show, he'll head upstairs to The Club Arcada Speakeasy, where he and his back-up trio can lay down yet another outstanding performance in what should prove to be the ultimate, perfect setting.  (We may make it a point to catch this one ourselves!)

Sam has a number of other shows booked throughout the summer ... so you can catch him at any one of these venues here locally ...

I have wanted to see the headliners, War, for many years now ... but this was my first opportunity to do so ... and I'm SO glad we went!

Frontman Lonnie Jordan announced at the start of the show that the theme of that evening's performance was "The War Hit List" ... now that's MY kind of show!!! ... and they did not disappoint, covering ELEVEN of their Top 40 Pop Hits along the way.

War made their mark in the early '70's as a racially and ethnically diverse mixed unit of musical backgrounds and styles ... and, as such, developed the perfect blend of soul, Latin influences and funk that netted them this tremendous catalog of popular material, most of which you still hear on a regular basis on the radio today.

They first rose to prominence as Eric Burdon's back-up band after The Animals (and the "new" Animals) split up in the late '60's.  They topped the charts right out of the box with "Spill The Wine," a song written by the band, who shared song-writing credit on all of their hits.  (Jordan explained that Burdon had to clean the lyrics up a little bit in order to get a record deal ... but whatever tweaks he gave them certainly worked!  It was a smash ... and truly a "one of a kind" record that was unmistakably unique.)

The band blends the unusual sound of a harmonica and a saxophone on most of their material and it gives this music an edge not typically found in a live setting.  (Who knew these two instruments played together could create such a unique blend!)

The crowd was with them every step of the way ... so when Lonnie invited some of the ladies in the audience to come up on stage and strut their stuff during their performance of "Cisco Kid," there was no shortage of women joining them on stage and shakin' what they brought!  It was a fun moment for all parties concerned (and even more fun for us as two of the women seated next to us were among those taking part in the bootilicious festivities!)

It was great to hear a few things I haven't heard for awhile (such as their 1974 hit "Me And Baby Brother.")  They also honored a request to play "The World Is A Ghetto" ... a song they said they hadn't performed in awhile ... from a fan they met before the show.  It was a letter-perfect rendition, as were all the tunes they performed that night.  (Now I personally could have done with about half of the extended jams they offered up to extend nearly every song ... as well as the spotlight solos given to virtually every instrument up on stage ... but there is absolutely NO denying the fine musicianship of this band.)

Two other major highlights of the evening were their set-closing numbers "Why Can't We Be Friends," which had every member of the band trading off lead vocals (as well as every member of the audience up on their feet, groovin' along with the music and greeting their neighbors) and, of course, "Low Rider," probably the most-played War song on the radio today ... on EVERY kind of station!  (For the record it is also their current top vote-getter in our Classic Rock Essentials Poll.)

War has LOTS of shows coming up (including one next month with KC and the Sunshine Band!) ... so again we encourage you to check them out the next time they come out your way.  (kk)     

1970 - Spill The Wine (#1) with Eric Burdon
1971 - They Can't Take Away Our Music (#37) 
          with Eric Burdon and Sharon Scott
1971 - All Day Music (#28)
1972 - Slippin' Into Darkness  (#12)
1973 - The World Is A Ghetto  (#7)
1973 - Cisco Kid (#1)
1973 - Gypsy Man (#7)
1974 - Me And Baby Brother  (#12)
1974 - Ballero  (#29)
1975 - Why Can't We Be Friends  (#5)
1975 - Low Rider  (#5)
1976 - Summer  (#7)
1977 - L.A. Sunshine  (#45)
1978 - Galaxy  (#39)

Meet The Band:
Lonnie Jordan - vocals and keyboards -original founding member of the band
Marcos Reyes - percussion (and outstanding at it, by the way!)  A member of War since 1998
Stanley Behrens - harmonica (and an amazing performer ... introduced as a veteran, he performed a full reading of The Star Spangled Banner, solo on the harmonica ... which was a real first for me!!!  Check his credits and you'll see that he's played with just about everybody ... and even did the harmonica intro on the TV show "My Name Is Earl"!!!)
Scott Martin - saxophone (and a real showman, too!  Scott also doubled on flute ... and contributed background vocals)   
Rene Camacho - bass (if I'm going to listen to a bass solo, I want it to be played by THIS guy!!!  Amazing!) 
Sal Rodriguez - drums (and a bit of a show-off ... but that's ok ... because he's got the goods to back it up!) ... and
Stuart Ziff - guitar (member since 2002), rounding out the line-up of this fine, seven piece band

And finally, a special "Thank You" to Ron Onesti for the awesome third row seats!!!  What a way to see a concert.  (From this vantage point, Frannie and I were able to take these up close pics all by ourselves!!!  lol) 

And please bear with me for just one more minute as I dedicate this show to Chet Coppock ... he would have LOVED it ... and ABSOLUTELY would have been there ... hangin' out backstage with the band and diggin' every minute of the set.  This was HIS kind of concert ... and Ron told me beforehand that he had set aside tickets for him before we got the sad news late last week of his passing.  Chet ... just wanted to let you know that we had a blast on your behalf!  (kk)