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Hotel California

The Soundtrack Of Summer Tour May 29 Tuscaloosa Amphitheater

The Soundtrack Of Your Life

Soundtrack of Summer Tour

Don Felder, Foreigner and STYX

Thursday, May 29

Tuscaloosa Amphitheater

BY JEFF CLARK

jeff.clark@packet-media.com

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Although the official start of summer is still a few weeks off, amphitheaters across the nation are gearing up for a summer of package tours and heavy hitters. The first of these big package shows touched down at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater on May 29.

Named the “Soundtrack of Summer Tour,” the show featured former Eagles guitarist Don Felder and hit makers Foreigner and Styx.

Felder opened the show with the Eagles hit “Already Gone.” Fronting a tight four piece band, Felder played Eagles songs effortlessly, working the crowd into a frenzy with “Life in the Fastlane,” “Witchy Woman” and others. Felder showed why he was and will always remain an important part of the Eagles, as his guitar playing was flawless.

Two of the highlights of Felder’s set included “Heavy Metal (Takin’ A Ride),” a song from the animated film of the same name that didn’t make the final cut of “The Long Run” album and the Steve Young classic “Seven Bridges Road.” Felder, a native of Gainesville, Fla., may not live in the South anymore, but he still knows how a crowd in Tuscaloosa is going to react to a song written about an area outside Montgomery, the state’s capitol.

Styx’s Tommy Shaw, a native of Montgomery and a member of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, joined Felder to sing and play dual lead guitar on his set closer, “Hotel California.” It was a magical moment for a fan of either band.

Felder was everything the Eagles wish they could be – easy, breezy, tight as hell, and he seemed to be having the time of his life with every note. Most importantly, Felder knows how to connect with his audience by giving them exactly what they want.

After a brief intermission, FM rock radio kings Foreigner took the stage with “Double Vision,” the title track from their 1978 album recorded at the legendary Studio City in L.A. I must admit, the band sounded so good that it wasn’t until around the third song, “Cold As Ice,” that I noticed that founding member and guitar hero Mick Jones was not on stage with the band. Jones was recovering from some undisclosed health issue, but he did make it out for the next song, “Waiting For a Girl Like You;” he remained onstage and larger than life for the rest of the evening. A highlight of the show was when Jones played acoustic guitar and sang the long forgotten “Star Rider,” a song from Foreigner’s first album.

Jones, who will turn 70 in December, was fantastic, as was the entire band. It was cool to see bassist Jeff Pilson, an original member of Dokken and a former member of DIO, playing with Foreigner. Pilson comes from an era when everyone in the band had lead singer charisma. He was as fun to watch with Foreigner as he was when I saw Dokken for the first time in 1985.

Another standout moment came during the encore when Annie McClendon’s fourth grade students joined the band for their biggest hit, “I Want To Know What Love Is.” It was a chill bump-inducing moment.

The only thing missing from Foreigner’s set were the songs “Dirty White Boy” and “Blue Morning, Blue Day.” But, with the large numbers of hits the band has, they can’t play them all.

Styx were the final act to take the stage. Opening with “The Grand Illusion,” the band gave the crowd exactly what the came for – ripping solos by Shaw, a theatrical light show and spot-on vocals from Shaw and keyboardist Lawrence Gowan. Dennis who? Styx should stick with the formula they have and never even consider a ”reunion” show with former singer Dennis DeYoung.

This is Styx 2014 and they are amazing.

They gave the crowd hit after hit, including “Lady,” “Blue Collar Man” and “Too Much Time On My Hands.” It was real treat seeing Shaw perform in his native Alabama with friends and family watching from the audience. It was also cool to see him go deep into the Styx catalogue and whip out “Crystal Ball.”

The band closed with “Rockin’ The Paradise,” from the “Paradise Theater” album and the anthem from “Pieces Of Eight” – the crowd favorite “Renegade.”

The Soundtrack of Summer tour brought back a lot of memories. It was more like the soundtrack of my life, because, as someone who was born in 1970, this was the music I grew up with. It was also refreshing to see some honest-to-goodness rock ‘n’ roll, especially in this day and age, when it seems rock is so self aware that all of the fun and life has been taken from it. This was not the case with Don Felder, Foreigner and Styx. Viva Rock And Roll!

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