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Still playing the hits

Lynyrd Skynyrd
AVA Amphitheatre
Tucson, AZ
July 13, 2017
Lynyrd Skynyrd Lynyrd Skynyrd Lynyrd Skynyrd

Review and photos by Frances Sealy

Lynyrd Skynyrd is not the same band it was in the early 1970s. The band has been fraught with multiple tragic events like the plane crash that killed lead singer and songwriter, Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines and vocalist Cassie Gaines. Allen Collins was paralyzed in a car accident and later died from complications. Original drummer Artimus Pyle survived a serious motorcycle accident. Health maladies have also struck other remaining original band mates.

The present band has one original member of Lynyrd Skynyrd. That is Gary Rossington on guitar. Johnny Van Zant (Ronnie's brother) provides lead vocals. The rest of the band consists of Rickey Medlocke on guitar, Johnny Colt on bass, Michael Cartellone on drums, Boxcar (Steve Traum) on harmonica, and Peter Keys on piano. Krantz Rossington and Carol Chase are the background vocalists.

The band took the stage and they seemed to be almost as excited as the fans. They were all decked out in their outlaw-biker garb and they had a tattered American flag wrapped around the microphone stand. Within two songs into the set, the wind increased, the lightning got progressively closer, and the thunder got loud. Light rain turned into a hard rain that prevented the sound crew from keeping their equipment dry. Five songs into the set (30 minutes), Johnny Van Zant announced that they were going to have to stop temporarily until the storm passed. As much as nature's special effects added to the ambiance of the show, safety was an issue for the band and the fans. He promised that they would return and play a full concert.

After 30 minutes, the band returned to perform all of their anthems in a heartfelt way. Johnny Van Zant was an engaging, personable front man. The set had one hit song after another from start to finish. It was very easy for the crowd to sing with the band and be a part in the show. Van Zant mentioned several times during the set how much respect and gratitude the band had for our military troops, police, and firefighters.

The mission of the band is to carry on the original Lynyrd Skynyrd legacy and they do it very well. "That Smell" is the band's anti-drug anthem. Van Zant mentioned, "We've been there and done that and we're never going back." The band closed the set with "Sweet Home Alabama." The iconic song was originally written as a retort to Neil Young's "Southern Man." Who knew that "Sweet Home Alabama" would become more memorable than Young's song?

The encore was an extended version of "Free Bird," This song is in a class all its own. "Free Bird" has become the benchmark song for requests at just about any rock concert one can attend. The epic song was given the raw, spine-tingling treatment that it so well deserves.
Set List:
1. Thunderstruck (AC/DC cover)
2. Workin' for MCA
3. What's Your Name
4. You Got That Right
5. Saturday Night Special
6. Honky Tonk Night Time Man (Merle Haggard cover)
7. That Smell
8. Simple Kind Of Man

9. Gimme Back My Bullets
10. The Needle and the Spoon
11. Tuesday's Gone
12. T For Texas (Jimmie Rodgers cover)
13. Gimme Three Steps
14. Call Me the Breeze (J.J. Cale cover)
15. Sweet Home Alabama

16. Free Bird

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Lynyrd Skynyrd (Country Thunder 2004) - Festival review - Twin Lakes, WI July 2004

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