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Sammy Hagar and The Circle
at the DLV Las Vegas 4-11-15

For over 40 years Sammy Hagar has been blazing trails, speeding down the rock n’ roll highways and taking names along the way.

Hagar started out in various garage acts and found himself in the hard rock outfit, Montrose. He played for that band for a few years gaining success and notoriety. In his solo career the hit song “Red” would become the base word for his nick-name, The Red Rocker. After years of touring and releasing records, his fame as a songwriter led to him writing the theme to America’s most popular animated movie, Heavy Metal.

One bit of history I think most of you know are the years he put into fronting the band Van Halen. For over a decade he brought his powerful gravelly voice and red rocking attitude to the party.

I can go on for days telling you about other bands he’s been in (like Chickenfoot and HSAS) but that would leave no room to tell you of the explosive performance that Sammy Hagar and The Circle put on at the new Downtown Las Vegas. Who is The Circle? This backing band is made up of veteran rockers like Jason Bonham on drums, Vic Johnson on guitar and the baddest bassist to ever beat four strings, Mr. Michael Anthony.

We’re greeted by Guy Fieri (of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives) who introduced the band; everything went up in a big red ball of fire after that. Sammy opened with his anthem, “There’s Only One Way to Rock” and smashing to the groove of “Rock Candy,” everyone got on their feet. Even the fans way in the back were jumping with their fingers pointed high and singing along. All the while Sammy and the boys used every available square foot of the stage to run around like a bunch of crazed lunatics on a weekend pass. Michael Anthony was on his best game, less than half way through the gig he played his famous bass solo. Minus his Jack Daniel’s bass that he usually abuses, he wailed through his solo like a war tank. Nothing but fun continued as The Circle dove into Van Halen hits like “Poundcake,” ” Right Now,” and another anthem from Sammy’s solo years, “I Can’t Drive 55.” The audience ate it up, especially during the song “Right Now.” Everyone knew the words and had some kind of connection with the lyrics. It was an emotional moment hearing over two thousand people sing along.

The night moved on and we came to the Led Zeppelin portion of the concert. Just last month we saw Jason and his band play the best songs in rock history, now we see him with rock icons playing the songs that molded rock n’ roll into what we hear today. Sammy couldn’t have sung better, ripping through the Led Zeppelin tune “Whole Lotta Love.” No matter how many times I hear this song or a band belts it out, it never gets old. It’s always fresh, and The Circle kept it fresh!

After an hour and half they’re still going strong. Never underestimate the stamina of veteran rockers like Sammy and Mike. I couldn’t believe the energy and pure adrenaline they have. I’m twenty years younger and was getting tired of standing! These guys were swingin’ and spinnin’ all over the place and barely sounded tired or out of breath. Maybe I should drink Cabo Wabo Tequila like Sammy, but I digress. More crowd pleasing classic Van Halen cuts from 5150 and 0U812, I’m talking about those smooth, groovy sounds that get guys and gals on the dance floor: “Why Can’t This Be Love” and “Finish What You Started.”

No, I didn’t dance.

“After an hour and half they’re still going strong. Never underestimate the stamina of veteran rockers...”

Moving right along; I think I might be correct by saying most of the readers of Horror Metal Sounds have seen or heard of the movie, Heavy Metal. What some might not know is that Sammy Hagar recorded the most important song on the soundtrack, the title cut. It was performed to perfection, of course. Loud, heavy and pounding are the only words to describe how intense the song sounded. For many years, this song was a mantra in the small circle of friends I had and to finally hear it live brought back those house party memories where we’d crank the volume to this song.

Speaking of parties, it ain’t over yet! The big major rager party song to end all party songs came swaggering in with all his friends. “Mas Tequila,” peer pressured its way down your throat till you got hammered just by singing along. For this light weight, I was staggering by the second chorus!

The encore started out a bit mellow with Zeppelin’s, “When the Levy Breaks.” Vic Johnson put on a Gibson SG double neck and strummed through the chords with the greatest of ease. Then things got extreme when they broke into “Runaround” and ended with the most explosive rendition of Led Zep’s “Rock N’ Roll.” The crescendo lasted for what seemed to be five minutes with the band banging and Sammy yelling out his gratitude at the top of his lungs that still hadn’t collapsed yet.

For a bunch of old dudes, they sure know how to have a good time and put on a mother of a show! Every song Sammy slammed was a hit, and truly after all is said and done, there is only one way to rock: the Red Rocker way.

Special thanks to Kara Rutkin for the support and to Todd Barbour who besides being a great road dog is becoming quite the assistant. He kept track of the set list while I shutter-bugged.

Extra special thanks to The Circle for bringing classic sounds to the masses and the DLV for hosting a superb show.

Tim Duran, HMS

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