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Monday, March 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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A&E >  Music

Concert review: Sammy Hagar and the Circle let loose with a top notch set of rockin’ hits

UPDATED: Sat., July 1, 2017, 10:08 p.m.

Four decades of rock sizzled with the 87-degree, sun-filled evening. Or as the Red Rocker Sammy Hagar alluded to, 15 guitar-heavy tunes rolled out a lifetime’s soundtrack for a vast majority of Friday’s concertgoers at Northern Quest Resort and Casino.

Fans’ T-shirts spoke of the span – Van Halen tours, Hagar’s solo shows, and Cabo Wabo-themed attire from the rocker’s bar venues. A few kids and teenagers lingered among mostly baby boomers and Gen Xers crowding the outdoor venue.

The party all got started with videos on a backdrop screen of 1970s-clad Montrose and Sammy’s curly blonde mop (which he still has, by the way). Images showed Hagar solo stints and clips of “I Can’t Drive 55,” along with bombastic Van Halen footage, Cabo Wabo and recent band Chickenfoot.

Hagar and the Circle delivered with hit after hit, led with “There’s Only One Way to Rock.” The supergroup is touring this summer with bassist and Van Halen original Michael Anthony; veteran drummer Jason Bonham, son of the late and legendary Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham; and Vic Johnson, longtime Waboritas guitarist.

That talent easily unleashed songs circling Hagar’s solo hits, Montrose, Van Halen, Chickenfoot, and – to audience delight – Led Zeppelin tunes reincarnated like a bonus track. With Bonham’s drums signaling arrival, everyone stood, and stayed standing for the show’s hour and 20-plus minutes.

“OK, Spokane, give it up,” Hagar said. Unfolding music history, Hagar was the perfect tour guide. “We’re going to take you back to 1992,” for Van Halen’s “Poundcake.”

Donning sunglasses, Hagar wore signature bright red with a T-shirt backing “Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum.” He belted out tunes with a still-strong voice, and between sets, addressed fans like old friends. “I remember this place; we all played here as The Waboritas,” bantering about a brutal sun.

“Some palm trees would be nice.”

Introducing bandmates, Hagar explained, “We are the Circle; the Circle plays songs from our whole life.” Turning 70 in October, Hagar’s storied career as a rock vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter started with 1970s Montrose fame.

The Montrose nod, “Rock Candy,” had Hagar prompting, “Some of you weren’t even born yet.”

Enough, apparently, were. Fans loudly sang along. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Hagar-Anthony pairing without some drinking jokes, and Hagar bringing Anthony a sip of what looked like his specialty rum.

Hagar also teased about the one Brit’s accent. Bonham retorted, “Other than good looks, money and hair, what do you have?” “Talent, yes,” Bonham submitted, praising Hagar’s sense of fun. With the mic back, Hagar quipped, “Smells like fish and chips.”

Johnson let stellar guitar solos do his talking, including mastery of a doubleneck Gibson with bluesy-rock sounds for “Little White Lie” and “When the Levee Breaks.” The latter brought stage-effects fog and Bonham’s drums true to Zeppelin’s cover. “Jason and John Bonham on the drums,” Hagar said in tribute.

Some of the loudest fan participation also came with megahits “I Can’t Drive 55,” “Why Can’t This Be Love,” “Mas Tequila,” and “Heavy Metal.”

Hagar and Anthony gave a Van Halen-like strut to “Why Can’t This Be Love,” along with face-to-face singing. By the time shade crossed stage, Hagar unfurled a sheet with a tribute, “Spokane loves the Red Rocker.”

“I’ll drink to that,” he said.

To cap the show ending’s “When It’s Love,” and rousing Zeppelin cover, “Rock and Roll,” a half moon hung in the sky and temps dipped to low 70s. Hagar poked fun at himself about his age, and the unlikelihood of him ever quitting music.

“What!” he quickly said in a high-pitched yell, along with an expletive. “This is more fun than anything else I could do,” to the crowd’s roar. “We’re all getting older … Thank you for allowing me to do this my whole life.”

Sammy Hagar and the Circle was reviewed Friday at Northern Quest Resort and Casino.

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