River Spirit Casino
September 19, 2014
By Jeb Wright with a little help from Ace Neville
Road Fever | Home in My Hand | My Babe | Drivin' Wheel | Stone Blue | Terraplane Blues | Drum Solo | Fool for the City |California Blues/I Just Want to Make Love to You
I first met Roger Earl when I started www.classicrockrevisited.com way back in 1998. In fact, Roger was my first… interview that is. We hit it off. Over the years, when the band put out a CD, embarked on a world tour, or whatever, we seemed to do an interview. Eventually, I met his wife, Linda, and when I went took my daughter on her dream vacation to New York City I met Roger and Linda at BB Kings for dinner. A few years later, I returned to NYC to help celebrate the release of their critically acclaimed album, titled Foghat Live II.
I have loved this band since I first heard Foghat Live. I would jam that thing out and play with the cool cutout cover and just crank it up. What makes this band special, as seen and heard on September 19th in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is that they love what they are doing. Time has not jaded them. Fame has not made them unapproachable and the music has never stopped running through their body, mind and soul. Sure, the set list may not change much… but when it’s made up of ten pure, rockin’, slide guitar lovin’, distorted, pentatonic scale, drum pounding, bass line wandering and vocal wailing blues rock, then, who the heck cares? On this night, the band was allotted time to stretch out, make the jams a bit longer, take a bit more time to play off of each other, and to sway and swoon the energy in the arena just a little bit more… And they did it well.
“Road Fever” was the first full song of the evening, bringing with it all of the boogie-tilt rocking that has made the band famous. The musical intro, however, featured lead guitarist Bryan Bassett jamming out some wailing blues and this writer could have sworn he heard a few strains of the Foghat classic “Honey Hush” thrown in the mix. Next up was “Home In My Hand” which, when growing up, was my favorite Foghat tune. Despite seeing them a dozen times, the band has never had this tune in the set when I have been in the audience. I was rocking out harder than Charlie Huhn was hitting the strings on his TV yellow Les Paul Special. I am sure the entire band could hear me singing from the fourth row—I know the people next to me could, but I kept on, despite the looks they were giving me.
“My Babe” has been in the set for a few years, and tonight the Tulsa crowd enjoyed the swaying back and forth boogie making this song- which is usually not one of the best in the set- really go over well. “Drivin’ Wheel” and “Stone Blue” followed…what’s not to love about these two ditties? Those tracks rock solid and sound great. ‘Nuff said.
After these two Foghat staples, vocalist and guitarist Charlie Huhn took over the stage. He started off the Robert Johnson blues tune “Terraplane Blues” and by the time the song was over the crowd was on its feet. The band must have played this tune for ten minutes. There was solo after solo, a giant swoosh into overdrive and then a whoosh down to the simple blues lick by Charlie. He would sing, the band would join, and they would take it back up into the stratosphere only to have it softly glide back down to earth. The energy in this song, both on the stage and in the crowd was powerful.
Then, there’s the man who looks at the world through rose colored glasses…no, he really does. His eyepieces are rose colored. Roger Earl, the remaining founding member of Foghat, showed the crowd how a boogie rock drum solo should be done. He bashed it out and slapped the skins, tickled the hi-hit and slammed the cymbals. When he was done with his tutorial on booming and banging things, it was time to introduce the band… which is always a fun time at a Foghat show.
Roger was given props for founding the band and for the time he spent tapping the skins for the band Savoy Brown. Craig MacGregor took his bass and, like Earl, took a few moments to show people how boogie rock is meant to be done! Thunder Fingers was a joy to watch all night long. He may not say much, but he is the epitome of letting one’s fingers do the talking! Charlie Huhn received praise for his time with Humble Pie and as the vocalist on numerous albums by Ted Nugent. It was Bryan Bassett’s introduction that had the most effect on the crowd, however. The tall and talented six-string solider did time in the 1970’s with the band Wild Cherry and it was his guitar riff that made the disco classic “Play That Funky Music White Boy” the hit it was. The entire band jammed out a few bars to the classic dance tune and I think the Tulsa crowd would have loved to hear the song in its entirety.
The final half-hour or so of the main set was comprised of two songs…well, three…kinda. Two of them transitioned right into each other. Before I get to that blend of tunes, I gotta talk about “Fool for the City,” as during that song the crowd, despite the extra effort of an over zealous Seat Nazi Security Guard, stormed the stage. This crowd of 40, 50 and 60 something’s was dipped into the waters that Ponce De Leon searched so long to find…the fountain of youth. There was dancing, and swaying, and grooving to the music….oops…wrong song. Suffice it to say this song, which is a true rock and roll powerhouse, brought the roof down. Next up, was more of the same.
What appeared to be a long bluesy, guitar soaked intro to the classic blues, and classic rock Foghat remake of “I Just Want to Make Love to You” was actually the song “California Blues.” The band does not always have enough time to play this one in it’s entirety, but tonight, being the only band on the bill, they were able to play it as long as they fancied. Huhn and Bassett stole the show with their guitar licks, trading them back and forth, building the tension as they went. They did this, however, with Earl and Mac quietly, yet with much musical expertise, supplying the rhythm. All four communicated on stage and made the song, which is simple in its approach, a work of art by the time they were done. When they finally decided to set the blues aside and rock it up and go into the song proper, the crowd again, responded with a roar.
The evening was not over, however, as the band came back for a ten minute encore of their most famous song, “Slow Ride.” Everyone knew it was coming, and when Earl hit the famous four bass drum notes at the beginning, the room exploded. The band jammed this sucker out nearly another ten minutes before bringing the show to a close. They bowed, even kicked their legs in unison, and left the stage. Backstage the smiling band sucked down a few warm brews (the ice maker was broken) and changed clothes before heading back out to the merchandise booth to meet with fans and sign autographs…a classy move from a classy band.
The bottom line here is that Foghat is still that band with that weird name. They also still live up to a reputation earned nearly 40 years ago as one of the best live bands on the planet. What makes it even better is the fact that these guys still love doing this. There is no BS in this band. What you hear is what you get: Loud and proud boogie-fied rock and roll.
Love live Foghat!