Opener vs. Headliner

The Summer concert season is starting soon and there are many Rock’n Roll pairings coming to a town near you: Poison/Cinderella, Def Leppard/Journey, Bon Jovi/Nickelback, Tom Petty/Pearl Jam or Tom Petty/Allman Brothers. In the case of Poison/Cinderella and Def Lep/Journey, these are co-headline tours but, technically, one band is the opening act.

The question today is:

Have you ever been to a concert where the opening band blew away the headliner?

I’ve seen this happen more than a few times:

1. Sammy Hagar vs. David Lee Roth (Sam & Dave Tour 2002, Mansfield MA) – Each band played 100 mins, each band took turns headlining. Sammy played a Van Halen heavy set, bringing out Michael Anthony for half the show AND Gary Cherone dueted on When It’s Love (background vocals provided by local favorite, Boston!). Diamond Dave had no shot after Sammy blew his wad. Dave played all Van Halen songs but his voice was giving him a hard time. I was 3rd row, stage right. Just after his second song, Dave runs to the side of the stage, takes a shot and a puff of something “herbal”. He comes back on stage and his voice is now perfect!

2. UFO vs. Blue Oyster Cult (2004, Hampton Beach Casino, NH) – UFO’s glorius return to New England and they blow B.O.C. away. After 90 mins of UFO, most of they crowd walked out leavung B.O.C. to play a half empty ballroom!

3. Cinderella vs. Bon Jovi (Slippery When Wet Tour 1986, Providence Civic Center) – Cinderella was on their first tour and were hungrier, they went over HUGE in Providence. When the house lights went up after Cinderella, the hall erupted in boos. This I’ll never forget, after 30 mins, the house lights go up and everyone boos! Bon Jovi opens with In And Out Of Love and the boos cascade down. Priceless!

4. Guns’n Roses vs. Aerosmith (Appetite Tour/Permanent Vacation Tour 1988, Mansfield, MA) – Who could compete with a surging Guns’n Roses in 1988? Even the mighty Aerosmith couldn’t keep up and they were excellent that night.

5. Silvertide vs. Fuel (2004, Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel, Providence, RI) – I took my wife to see Fuel at this old theater, I can’t stand them. So we head to the bar and these teenagers take the stage (they are actually all between 18 – 21). Unimpressed, I go back to my drink. I then hear the most amazing Michael Schenker-ish guitar solo, there’s this young kid with a white Flying V just wailing. 30 mins later, I’m blown away and buying their 2 samplers at the merch booth. Fuel came on stage and the crowd cheered but the energy had been sucked dry after witnessing the Silvertide upstarts playing solos on bar tops, and stomping their way through the crowd. So much energy, with surprising talent for a young band, everyone leaving was talking about Silvertide and not Fuel.

Jack Russell – For You (2002)

Jack Russell – For You (2002, Knight Records)

1. Any Kinda Love
2. What Ever It Takes
3. Always
4. Don’t Know Why
5. For You
6. The Best Is Yet To Come
7. Where The Wind Don’t Blow
8. Paradise
9. No Time Left
10. If Not For Love
11. My Everything

Jack Russell’s official website to be re-opened soon!

In 2001, Jack Russell put his band, Great White, on hiatus after the comeback album, Can’t Get There From Here (1999, Portrait) met with dismal sales, and an opening slot on the Poison Reunion Tour failed to rejuvenate the band on the touring circuit. Russell decided it was time to do something different, he needed to express a different side of his musical life. The result? His second solo album, For You.

One listen to this album and you immeadiately realize this isn’t a Great White album disguised as a solo effort. While Jack’s voice will always be synonymous with the Great White sound, this album is a departure from the trademark Blues-tinged Hard Rock that made him famous. This album is more AOR than Hard Rock, maybe even a bit Pop. It’s a lighter side of Jack Russell: mostly mid-tempo songs and soft ballads, no real rockers here. The songwriting is introspective and takes a positive look toward the future, no doubt a result of a new found sobriety at the time.

Fave tracks on this offering: the upbeat Any Kinda Love and The Best Is Yet To Come (both could have been on Great White’s 1994 album, Sail Away) and the ballads No Time Left and My Everything.

This album has been reissued in 2006 by Sidewinder Music (the label behind all those VH-1 Stripped albums) and you can read a current interview with Jack at Classic Rock Revisited.