The 2019 Tuesdays in the Park presented by M&T Bank kicked off with a huge bang as Sammy Hagar & the Circle along with Night Ranger were the perfect appetizer on an amazing lineup for this year’s concert schedule. This is the 2nd time Hagar graced the outdoor stage and it was Night Ranger’s first trip. In fact, during the show Hagar remarked how he remembered the place on his drive up to the venue. This double bill does have a history to it. Night Ranger did their first tour as Hagar’s support on his 1983 Three Lock Box tour.
Taking the stage at around 6:45pm, Night Ranger grabbed a hold of the crowd and didn’t let them go for their 45 minutes on stage. Underrated tracks like “Sing Me Away” and “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me” are very melodic and rocking tracks. The band still delivers them just as eager and hungry as they did 36 years ago when they first started out. Even though the set was not as long, they still dusted off the deep cut “Night Ranger“ which went over tremendously. Bassist and vocalist Jack Blades asked the crowd who has never seen the band and about 2/3rds replied no. Blades said “we only been around for 36 years!” Well, I believe they earned the respect of everyone in attendance and set the bar pretty high for Hagar & the Circle to follow.
The Circle consists of Vic Johnson on guitar, Jason Bonham on drums and longtime friend and partner in various projects Michael Anthony on bass. The band changed it up a little it and instead of opening with a familiar number, the band dropped a song from their latest album “Space Between” with a tune called “Trust Fund Baby.” This song included the video they shot for the song on the video screen backdrop. I believe the song could continue to have legs and show up on Hagar’s set years down the line. One of the greatest rock anthems in my opinion was up next in “One Way to Rock.” If that doesn’t pump you up and get you doing nothing will. The setlist consisted of a retrospect of Hagar’s career which include songs from Montrose, Van Halen, Sammy Hagar solo, Sammy Hagar and the Wabos and now Sammy Hagar & the Circle.
Hagar connects with his fans like few can. Fans tossed various clothing items for him to wear and/or sign. Hagar grabbed most of the items and did autograph and tossed quite a bit of them back. One of the items he kept (for a bit actually as he wore it for a few songs before tossing it back) was a custom-made Buffalo Sabres jersey with the number 55 and his name across the back. A few bras made their way and he grabbed them, signed them and then tossed them back while asking for the ladies to please put them back on. One of the other notable items was shirt from Nick Tahou’s where Hagar used to frequent a lot back while living in Rochester, NY in the early 1970’s. Hagar quipped, he rather have garbage plate and laughed while signing it for the fan.
What’s important and should be noted is that the band was as tight as can be. Anthony is as well loved and adored by fans as just about any bass player in the world. Bonham has made his own name by touring enough with his own band and other outfits over for the last 30 years. Johnson unfortunately broke his leg mid tour but sat on a stool and delivered note by note precision throughout the entire show.
Wrapping up the set with another new track in “affirmation” showed how deep Hagar’s catalog is that he can pull off bookending his set with new tracks. Hagar has new goal and he wants to be the next Willie Nelson of Rock and play until his late 80’s or even longer. At his age of 71, he shows no signs of slowing down and his voice as powerful as it always has been. I wouldn’t bet against him! He gave the crowd a great warm-up for the rest of the summer series. The rest of the acts have a big shoes to fill that’s for the rest of the Artpark season that’s for sure.
Sammy Hagar setlist:
Trust Fund Baby
There’s Only One Way to Rock (Sammy Hagar cover)
Three Lock Box (Sammy Hagar cover)
Poundcake (Van Halen cover)
I Can’t Drive 55 (Sammy Hagar cover)
Finish What Ya Started (Van Halen cover)
Right Now (Van Halen cover)
Rock Candy (Montrose cover)
Devil Came to Philly
Full Circle Jam (Chump Change)
Why Can’t This Be Love (Van Halen cover)
Rock and Roll (Led Zeppelin cover)
Heavy Metal (Sammy Hagar cover)
Mas Tequila (Sammy Hagar and the Wabos cover)
Eagles Fly (Sammy Hagar cover)
Best of Both Worlds (Van Halen cover)
Night Ranger setlist:
(You Can Still) Rock in America
Four in the Morning
Sing Me Away
High Enough (Damn Yankees cover)
When You Close Your Eyes
Don’t Tell Me You Love Me (Highway Star-Deep Purple snippet)
We would like to thank Dave Wedekindt and Maria Hays from Artpark for the credentials to review the show.