July 30, 2009
Nokia Center – Dallas, Texas
If the ‘60’s was a major part of your teenage or early adult years, you would have loved the Hippiefest show at the Nokia Center on Thursday night, July 30th. The roster of major stars from those years would have re-kindled whatever memories you have that the hemp and chemicals were kind enough to leave you.
With the show emceed by the Turtles’ Flo and Eddie, Badfinger’s Joe Molland kicked it off with a very entertaining set that included the band’s more popular hits like “Baby Blue”, “Come and Get It”, “Day After Day”, and “No Matter What”. Between songs, Molland would share stories behind the hits and conversations with their mentor, George Harrison. At times, you almost felt like you were listening to a Welsh version of Paul McCartney. If only it were that easy for a star to be born.
Next in the line-up, commandeering the Leslie organ, was The Rascal’s Felix Cavaliere, who energetically performed “I’ve Been Lonely To Long”, “In The Midnight Hour”, “Mustang Sally”, Groovin’ (with a little bit of “My Girl” and “Just My Imagination” mixed in for additional flavor), “People Got To Be Free”, closing out with “Good Lovin’”. The crowd was on their feet and cheering for more as he left the stage.
After the intermission, Flo and Eddie pleased the crowd with an uplifting and sometimes humorous performance of the Turtles’ songs “You Baby”, Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me, Babe”, “Elenore”, “You Showed Me”, “She’d Rather Be With Me” and the very profitable and heavily played “Happy Together”. They were definitely the feel good set of the evening.
Three Dog Night’s Chuck Negron hit the stage next, showing the crowd that he’s still the definitieve voice of the legendary band and that he’s darn glad to still be alive. (To learn more about Chuck’s life and nearly fatal heroin addiction, read his excellent book, “Three Dog Nightmare”.) With a voice that shows no sign of wear or tear, Negron gave the enthusiastic crowd the iconic hits they came to hear. Opening with “Shambala”, he took us back in time with “Celebrate”, “Mama Told Me Not To Come”, “Easy To Be Hard”. Chuck left the crowd yearning for more after closing out his set with “Joy To The World”. I was back stage when he exited and you could tell that he was pleased that he gave the crowd his best and all with the audience showing their pleasure with his performance with a standing ovation.
Hippiefest closed out the show with Leslie West of Mountain. West stepped out on stage with just his signature Dean Guitar, opening with “People Get Ready”. The band gradually joined him in giving a rocking rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Blowing In The Wind” that quickly brought the crowd to its feet.
After bantering with the front row for a couple of minutes, Leslie launched into “Theme From An Imaginary Western”. He then turned us on to the first song he learned on the guitar: Cream’s “Crossroads” that had everyone on their feet, cheering him on.
Accompanied by bassist, Rev Jones (who mesmerized the crowd by twirling his punk ponytail while ferociously delivering some lightning fast rifts) and long time Mountain drummer, Corky Laing (who, after all these years, shows that he still loves performing and throwing away lots of drum sticks), West then gave incredible servings of “To Yasgur’s Farm”, “Nantucket Sleigh Ride, “Mississippi Queen”, and the Spencer Davis Group’s, “Give Me Some Lovin’”, joined by the back-up band for the previous artists.
An observation about the audience: They loved all the acts and the memories that they brought with them. Some (how do I put this?) likely woke with the painful reminder that they can no longer ingest what they use to nor can their body do those sweet dance moves it once did. One lady, in particular, danced in a serpentine way that I know darn well has got to have caused her some serious pain. She commanded such attention that Chuck Negron changed a portion of the lyrics to “Mama Told Me Not To Come” to, ”that lady dancing crazy”.
With all of that said, the Hippiefest crowd left the Nokia Center exhausted but pleased. And, unlike those hemp fogged glory days of yesteryear, they’ll remember the show this time. Well, maybe not that lady that danced crazy but everyone else will.