Story and photos by Matt SchwenkeNot really Rock and not so much Country, Phil Vassar's mix of originals and cover songs, with stage antics in-between, was definitely a good time. The crowd at the Pabst was responsive and entertained as Phil Vassar was both energized and friendly with fans. At times distracting, Vassar obliged to sign T-shirts and hats thrown to him on stage even during song, but in the end, that, and the many toasts to the crowd, seemed to fit the bill of the night: Relax. Have fun.
Playing fan favorites like "Just Another Day In Paradise" and "Carlene", as well as a handful of songs from his latest album Shaken, Not Stirred, Phil Vassar's covers stood out as well. In an entertaining switch of control in the band, the rest of the band, who were usually given too few measures to produce a solo with any real effect throughout the night, took over the reins and let loose on a cover of AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long" and Jerry Lee Lewis' "Great Balls of Fire". And, to begin the encore, Vassar sat alone on stage at the piano and played a solid version of Billy Joel's "Piano Man". While some of the songs seemed rigid during the performance, with solo sections ending before anything was really accomplished, Phil Vassar's song-writing talents made up for the lack of improvisation in soloing.
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