Before Sammy Hagar & The Circle took the stage for the Loop Luau at FirstMerit Bank Pavilion At Northerly Island, a timeline tracing his extensive career rolled across the big screens. First there was Montrose, followed by a solo career, Hagar Schon Aaronson Shrieve, Van Halen, The Waboritas, Chickenfoot, and currently, leadership of The Circle alongside longtime VH bassist Michael Anthony, guitar great Vic Johnson and drum master Jason Bonham (Led Zeppelin’s “Celebration Day,” Black Country Communion, UFO, Foreigner).
Several of Sammy’s selections also earned a mirrored reaction to the Van Halen heavyweights, especially “I Can’t Drive 55” (accompanied by the memorable video playing overhead) and “Heavy Metal” (featuring co-writer/opening act Jim Peterik as a duet partner).
There was no way the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer could’ve squeezed it all into the course of an evening (or even an entire week), but for 90 minutes, about 7,000 followers scored a sampler set that found the Red Rocker in regular party mode and the band firing on all cylinders. No, Hagar’s voice didn’t get nearly as high as it did in the ‘80s and he even mistook a bottle of libations for the microphone on one occasion, but that’s all part of the carefree approach the veteran’s always employed across his countless collaborations.
“There’s Only One Way To Rock” was a natural place to start, followed by a trip way back to the beginning for Montrose’s “Rock Candy,” though perhaps unsurprisingly, Van Halen material earned the highest ratio in the set. From “Poundcake” to “Right Now,” “Why Can’t This Be Love” and “When It’s Love,” the guys pummeled away as every first collectively struck the air, while a significantly lowered “Dreams” was reworked with understated accompaniment by Johnson.
Several of Sammy’s selections also earned a mirrored reaction to the Van Halen heavyweights, especially “I Can’t Drive 55” (accompanied by the memorable video playing overhead) and “Heavy Metal” (featuring co-writer/opening act Jim Peterik as a duet partner). Everyone also appeared to bubble over with enthusiasm on Zeppelin standards such as “Good Times Bad Times” and the closer “Rock And Roll,” which despite Hagar not coming anywhere near the majesty of Robert Plant, fully embodied the raucous spirit of the celebration.
As for Peterik, his unplugged set was a pleasant, previously unannounced surprise that comprised tunes he wrote for the Ides Of March, Survivor, .38 Special and a Hagar-less test run through “Heavy Metal.” The tone echoed his recent acoustic album “The Songs,” and whether it was the lost treasure “Rebel Girl” or pop culture mainstays “Hold On Loosely,” “Vehicle” and “Eye Of The Tiger,” his knack for memorable phrasing and magnetic arrangements puts him towards the top of the somewhat under the radar greats.
Click here for more Sammy Hagar & The Circle with Jim Peterik photos from the Loop Luau at FirstMerit Bank Pavilion At Northerly Island.
Upcoming concert highlights at FirstMerit Bank Pavilion At Northerly Island include Bryan Adams (Sept. 15) and Pretty Lights (Sept. 23-24). For additional details, visit LiveNation.com.