Grand Funk Railroad Tour Review
I was at the opening show for Grand Funk Railroad on Friday February 2 and wanted to pass on a little review.
First of all let me say that I have never been a huge fan of GFR. I liked their stuff and grew up listening to my older sister playing some of their albums. I just never bought any myself.
Second, to anybody out there who thinks that GFR is nothing without Mark Farner, let me tell you this. I respect your opinion. But you should give this new line-up a chance before passing judgment. I live about 15 miles from Mark in Northern Michigan. I have even met him on a couple of occasions. He is currently involved in the Christian Rock scene. I'm sure he wishes his former band mates well.
OK, now for the set list. They played the popular stuff, as well as some songs that I had never heard. But I'm sure that the diehard fans recognized them. Here is the set list from the opening night:
1.Rock and Roll Soul
3.Walk Like A Man
10.Inside Lookin Out
11.One More River
12.Some Kinda Wonderful
Encore was Rock and Roll Music
They took the stage shortly after 8:00 P.M. The venue that they played in seats about 1000 people and it was totally packed. In fact, I saw Bruce play there last year with Union and got his autograph then. It is strange, but this is one of the only shows that I have been to where everyone was seated until about halfway through the show. The band sounded very tight. You could tell everyone, including the band was having a good time.
Max Carl's vocals were excellent. During a number of songs you couldn't tell the difference if it was him singing or if you were transported back in time to the 70's and Mark was up front singing. Max's vocals are a little bit bluesier. He also showed a lot of range, hitting the high notes of ClosertoHome/Captain with ease. He is also a very good rhythm guitarist as well as helping out on the keys.
Tim Cashion did an excellent job on the keyboards. His intro to ClosertoHome/Captain brought those still sitting to their feet. He also does a good job with the background vocals duty.
Bruce Kulick was the whole reason I went to see this show. And he didn't disappoint anyone there. I was seated in the front row about 12 feet away from him the entire night. I wore my Kiss Asylum concert shirt from 1985 which he autographed last year when I saw him with Union. During the first song he looked down at me as I was shouting his name. He gave me a thumbs up when I showed him the shirt with his autograph on it. His playing was awesome. He did a number of mini-solo's throughout the night. He was having a good time. I kept holding my hand out all night asking him for a guitar pick. He gave me another thumbs up. It wasn't until the encore number of Rock and Roll Music that he tossed the pick to me. Thanks Bruce. It was one of only two picks that he gave out that night.
Mel Schacher's bass was deep. Even though he was on the opposite side of the stage from me, I could feel the pounding of the bass in my chest. He did some cool riffs that were enjoyed by many.
Don Brewer's drum work was awesome too. Of course he sang lead on We're An American Band, Shinin On, Walk Like A Man and Some Kinda Wonderful. During Some Kinda Wonderful, he was out at the front of the stage smacking his drumsticks together to the beat of Mel's bass. Everyone in the audience was singing along loudly by this point. Then he went back behind his drums to kick into the song. During American Band he wore an Uncle Sam style red, white and blue top hat.
About mid-way through the show they did something that I called the Drum Thing in the set list. Don started with an excellent drum solo. You could see the sweat dripping off of him as he was banging away. Then everyone else kicked in on one form of drum or another. Max was seated with a single bass style drum. He was feverishly beating it on both sides. Mel was hitting a kettle style drum in front of him. Tim was beating on some bongo type of drums. And Bruce was left shaking a tambourine. It had a tribal sound to it all. Part way through, the microphone that Max was using to sing into fell over, stand and all. Everyone got a laugh out of it.
They came out to do a stirring rendition of Chuck Berry's Rock and Roll Music. It left everyone wanting more.
The only negative thing I can say about the show is that I didn't get a chance to meet the band afterward and get some autographs. It seems that the meet and greet session held afterwards was via a VIP pass that the local radio station was giving out. Had I known this prior to the show, I would have listened to that station a little more. But hey, I still got my pick from Bruce.
I went into the night not a huge fan of Grand Funk Railroad. I left buying a T-shirt and went to the local music store and bought a CD. If GFR comes to your town, go see them. You won't be disappointed. Funkengruven.
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