Concert Review – Lynyrd Skynyrd – Xfinity Center, Mansfield, MA

I have been a Skynryd fan for a number of years but for one reason or another never got around to seeing them. Well worth the wait and I have a number of things to say on various fronts. 

The Xfinity Center (aka Great Woods and a whole bunch of other names) is a 20,000 seat amphitheater about 36 miles (58km) SW of Boston. I’ve been there a number of times and despite some hassles (I’ll get to that) it is a great place to hear and see a show.

There were four bands on the bill: Wild Adriatic, Marshall Tucker Band, .38 Special and Skynyrd. Adriatic had already played early so we missed them. After buying food, we came in and saw maybe 15 minutes of Marshall Tucker Band. Too bad. I wish I’d seen a lot more. These guys are really good, really tight and I have always dug their music.

I found this video from like, a week ago. It’s long but displays some of their virtuosity. I would definitely go see them again.

So now we come to .38 Special. Truthfully, I didn’t even recognize them when they came out. Never been a fan. I don’t remember seeing them on the bill so maybe a last-minute addition? This band was formed a few years after Skynrd by another Van Zant brother, Donnie who apparently left the band amicably a few years back. (Ronnie died in the plane crash and Johnny has been Skynryd’s singer for a number of years now.)

Here’s the pro of .38 Special – these guys are extremely tight, very proficient players and put on a good show. Here’s the con – by and large their songs suck. It is that type of rock that is just about my least favorite – anthemic, generic arena rock.

Sample lyric – “My heart deserves a second chance.” Really? How many Hallmark cards did you have to discard till you got to that guys? Man, these guys would be great if their songs weren’t so shitty. I was sick of them after 1/2 hour but they kept on playing. Anyway, enough about them.

Finally, we come to Mr. Lynyrd J. Skynrd. Their show started out with a cartoon graphic of a radio going up and down the dial looking for something good. So, little snippets of bands like Seger, ZZ Top, etc. Cute.

Then they came blazing out with a big Skynryd insignia behind them and a terrific light show. Hokey? Sure. But that’s show biz.

The first song they did was “Workin’ for MCA,” a tribute (not) to that record company. Boy they sounded great – supertight. The whole band kicks ass and Van Zant is a great frontman. The only original member of the band remaining (the guy in the red jacket if you mouse over the picture) is Gary Rossington. (Who survived the `1977 crash but broke just about every bone in his body.)

Not to obsess over the crash but boy, the band sure doesn’t shy away from it. Just before they came on, they showed a video in which that was the first thing the voiceover mentioned! Geez, I thought. Well, it turns out it was a preview of a Showtime documentary that premieres on August 18 called Lynryd Skynrd: If I Leave Here Tomorrow. 

The setlist was varied, largely concentrating on their Seventies stuff. My son, who was with me, asked if they had had any post-crash hits. I had to check that out and the answer is no, not really. There are a few newer ones in their setlist but I wouldn’t say that they – or for that matter Southern rock – rule the radio these days.

Speaking of that, there has always been a connection between Skynyrd and Allmans. They used to follow the Allmans around the South and watch them play. After Duane’s death, they started dedicating “Free Bird” to him. But really, time has gone by and the only acknowledgment was a brief shot of them in a kaleidoscopic video of bands they like. And isn’t it interesting that a band that was declared dead in 1977 has outlived the Allmans?

Anyway, back to the show. So did I take videos? Are you kidding? Is Boston Irish?  (Well, you wouldn’t necessarily know that but it is.)

Here’s “What’s Your Name.”

They did the great “I Know a LIttle” but I missed the beginning. I’ve been playing this intro on the gee-tar lately. Superfast but a great, great intro. I couldn’t find any “live” ones that didn’t go on forever or have them saying “How you feelin’ tonight?” for 25 minutes so here’s the studio version.

Spotify link

Here’s “Gimme Three Steps,”a cautionary tale about getting a head start when you’re caught messing with some other man’s woman:

And so then the time came for an encore. Hmm, what will it be I asked Sonny Boy?

And to my surprise and chagrin, instead of coming out and doing a hard-charging epic version of “Free Bird,” they brought out their acoustic guitars, a guy with a flute and a woman with a harp. And then they sat down and did a medley of Peter, Paul and Mary songs – “Michael Row the Boat Ashore.” “Puff the Magic Dragon.” What’s going on? ………..

 

 

I’ll tell you what’s going on. I am totally fucking with you. They came out and smoked their way through a kick-ass, all-time version of “Free Bird,” a song I’ve wanted to hear live for, well, a long time. “Now I can die happily,” I told Sonny Boy. I didn’t record it as I wanted to enjoy it sans camera in my face. You can dial a version up anywhere. This one ran about 10 -11 minutes as, if it were any longer and they’d run into a curfew.

Great show, totally loved it, check the box.

Now, a few days after attending, I got a survey email from some guy at the venue wanting to know how I enjoyed the experience. Well, I enjoyed the band. As to the outrageous ticket prices, I don’t think Xfinity is entirely blameless but I largely blame TicketScumbag. And Live Nation. An unfettered monopoly.

But I told him that I was not particularly happy with my parking options  – free parking but wait for (at least) an hour before leaving (too many cars) or pay $50 (43 Euros)for Premier parking. We opted for the latter. (I paid for concert tix, Nick paid for parking.)

Did I enjoy the sausage that, for 10 bucks, came in a hot dog roll roughly half the size of the ones I get at Fenway? The piece de resistance? $13.50 (12 Euro) for a Heineken. Despite the barmaid giving me five ones I did not give her a tip. She didn’t create the problem but I am not adding one dollar to that tab. There is no excuse whatsoever for that shit. Sorry Xfinity. You can’t gouge me and expect a good review.

Would I go back to Xfinity? Sure. The one tune I liked by .38 Special was a cover of a Chicago tune! And so I’d like to see them. But next time I grab food before going in.

Setlist

Workin’ for MCA
Skynyrd Nation
What’s Your Name
Travelin’ Man
That Smell
I Know a Little
Whiskey Rock-a-Roller
Saturday Night Special
Red, White, & Blue
The Ballad of Curtis Loew
Tuesday’s Gone
Don’t Ask Me No Questions
Simple Man
Gimme Three Steps
Call Me the Breeze
Sweet Home Alabama

Encore:

Free Bird

21 thoughts on “Concert Review – Lynyrd Skynyrd – Xfinity Center, Mansfield, MA

  1. Great, funny review, Jim. I’d like to chime in on a few things which really struck a chord, if that’s ok:

    Who the **** is “Wild Adriatic,” and why did they name themselves after a small body of water in Europe?
    Agreed, .38 Special is not that good.
    Totally agree about “anthemic, generic arena rock.” When will that shit finally die and put me out of my misery?
    Any original members of MTB left? Toy Caldwell was a helluva guitarist, but he died long ago. I always preferred MTB and Outlaws over Skynyrd.
    I liked Skynyrd before the plane crash (I still have my copy of “Street Survivors,” with the inside gatefold torn after I had to rip the cover open because Dave Kinsey spilled beer on it at that party in college and the beer residue had sealed it shut). But I think they’ve been dragging their dinosaur around way too long. I’m glad Rossington is still going strong, though. Talk about “survivors.”
    Totally hear you about the ticket and food prices. P.T. Barnum is smiling now.

    Lastly, I have really fond memories of Southern Rock. Allmans were #1, of course (and they were before that term existed). So many of those bands experienced tragedy for some reason: plane, motorcycle, and car crashes, suicides, drug deaths, marriages to Cher… you name it. Thanks for the nostalgia trip.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t know anything about Wild Adriatic. I’ll check them out, see what’s shaking. We are, I’m afraid, stuck with anthemic arena rock. Its main progenitor, Bon Jovi, just made it into the Hall of Fame. You may not be crazy about the HOF. But apart from that, they make busloads of money. You think other young rockers aren’t paying attention?

      The only original member of MTB remaining is Doug Gray, their vocalist. Do you know that all the Caldwell brothers are gone, Toy from drugs, his brothers from automobile accidents?

      Fucking Dave Kinsey. He always does that, doesn’t he?

      Yeah, Rossington moves slowly but you wouldn’t know by his demeanor he’d been through anything. Low=key guy.

      Yeah, tragedy stalks these guys. Allen Collins, 100% responsible for “Free Bird” solo, got in a car accident which killed his wife, left him paralyzed. He later died of pneumonia.

      As to marriage to Cher, yeah that has to rank right up there as disastrous. Exhibit A: Cher and Gregg’s “Allman and Woman” album.

      As to nostalgia trip, I think my son nailed it when he said they are now pretty much of a nostalgia/tribute band. Having one original member doesn’t make them Skynrd per se.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. (I think we all knew a “Dave Kinsey” at one time, didn’t we?)

        Your son has it right about the nostalgia/tribute stuff (which isn’t necessarily bad). If you get a chance, dig into the story behind Rod Evans and Deep Purple. Fascinating and sad. One ex-member goes on tour using the band’s name, gets hit by a lawsuit, then disappears into obscurity and (relative) poverty. I tried locating him for an interview years ago and tracked him to Oakland, CA. Could get no further than that.

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        1. Hell, I think I’ve BEEN Dave Kinsey every now and again. I don’t know anything about the Deep Purple story but it sounds juicy. These guys routinely wind up hating each other.

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  2. Told ya’ you’d dig Skynyrd – glad you actually did! It looks like you guys had great seats. The only way I can afford going to concerts as frequently as I do without going bankrupt is to settle on the cheaper seats. I recognize the trade-off, but I feel even if you sit far away from the stage, a rock & roll show can still be a great experience!

    The Marshall Tucker Band clip is pretty cool. I definitely need to take a closer look at that band, can’t you see? 🙂

    As for .38 Special, while I wouldn’t call myself a fan, I actually like some of their songs, especially the older stuff. I agree that “my heart deserves a second chance” is not particularly deep lyrically speaking. I feel the same could be said about “What’s Your Name” – to be clear, I totally dig that tune and definitely prefer its nice boogie groove over “Second Chance”!

    BTW, it seems to be a feature of Skynyrd’s farewell tour that they don’t announce all guests, or do so at the very last minute. I had no idea that Atlanta Rhythm Section and Peter Wolf would be part of the show I saw in June. I thought both were pretty cool!

    Last but not least, I couldn’t agree with you more about food and drink at concerts. While I usually don’t go to sports games, I think the same is true for these events. If I buy food, usually, I can’t help myself and make silly remarks, such as, “wow, it’s a real bargain” or “I see, I’m definitely getting something for my money here.”

    When I went to see Gov’t Mule earlier this month, something funny happened. After I had spotted it on the menu, I ordered an alcohol-free beer. The lady behind the counter looked at me like I was coming from another planet. She had no clue what I was talking about and asked whether I meant root beer. She then consulted with a colleague and came back, telling me they don’t have it. I couldn’t resist teasing her by pointing it’s on their menu. I ended up taking a “light” beer – lots of cops in my neck of the woods, and they mostly seem to be bored looking for stuff to do!

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    1. You were not incorrect. Skynrd Nation! As to seats, I am typically a freak for “as close as I can get” assuming A) they’re available and 2) I can afford it. We were 20 rows back and so yes, I splurged. My son couldn’t believe it. He’d never been closer than the lawn.

      As to .38 Special, yeah they have a couple songs that aren’t bad. But I found a solid hour of them punishing. I wish I’d had more Marshall Tucker, less of them.

      I went looking for a Marshall Tucker clip that better showed off what I heard in terms of their versatility. They’ve always been a good, well-respected band. See my conversation with Pete for their own tragic arc.

      As to the food and drink, the only silly remark I wanted to make to these people was “Go fuck yourselves.” But it’s not the fault of the people serving you of course, but the greed of the owners.

      That’s funny about the Mule story. I’ve lost count of the number of times something like that has happened, i.e, that the person who’s selling doesn’t even know what the sign says!

      They have shitloads of beer kiosks at Xfinity Center. The only thing, I think, that prevented a total drunkfest was that it was a, ahem, more mature crowd shall we say. And we’ve all gotten shitfaced at shows and regretted it. The girl behind my son was (literally) falling-down drunk. She will remember nothing. We say McCartney at Fenway a handful of years ago. We had to keep letting three girls go by who continually ran out for beer which appears to be the only reason they came.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You have sent me on a 38 Special quest. That’s the kind of guy I am. “Peter, Paul and Mary”? My computer conked out after that. You were in fine “Doc” form on this one you redneck.
    (What do CB and LBJ have in common? They both like to piss outside)

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    1. Instead of listening to .38 Special, check out Spinal Tap. At least you can have a laugh while you’re listening to mediocrity. My wife hates Peter, Paul and Mary. Here’s a tune for all the rednecks and redneck wannabes out there:

      I believe it was LBJ who said he’d rather be inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That has to be David Lindley on slide . Great tune. How about Jerry Jeff’s ‘Redneck Mothers’? The wife quote is the best. I love a lot of that double guitar thing those southern guys did. The Outlaws had that one that really cooked.
        (Like i said, I like that LBJ guy)

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        1. Good call. Lindley’s on there, Glenn Frey’s on there and Elton Johns’ on there uncredited. I’m not the world;s biggest Jackson Browne fan but I do like that song quite a bit. Haven’t heard the Jerry Jeff tune. And boy, if you actually like LBJ, you may be one of the few. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        2. I listen to Lindley more than any of those other guys. Jerry Jeff’s a staple in my pile.
          (That’s why I want to read up on LBJ. Of all the Prezs’ you’ve had down there, him, Rosey and Abe are the ones that I gravitated towards. Lets be real clear, CB is not a politico. Real simple, I would like to find out more about the man. He was a Southern/Texas rocker right?)

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        3. He ended up north in Edmonton with Amos Garret in his later years. Texas/Northern Alberta? Weather adjustment.
          Very cool that you catch shows with your son. I’ve had that pleasure also. Sounds like Sonny gets the whole tribute thing.

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        4. I know Garret only because of his ‘Midnight at the Oasis’ guitar solo. Nick and I don’t have anywhere near the same musical tastes. But he does like the idea of seeing some classic bands while they’re still around. So we’ve seen what’s left of the Who, Skynryd and the Bowie tribute band that had a few original members. I never thought he’d dig Skynryd as he is not a blues ‘n boogie guy. But I gave him a playlist in advance so he’d be somewhat familiar.

          Liked by 1 person

        5. Very good on the ‘Oasis’ connection. I have an album ‘The Return Of The Formerly Brothers’, Sahm, Garret and Gene Taylor (The Blasters). Very good. Tex Mex, boogie, blues, country blues. What you’d expect from Doug. All his sounds.
          My offspring (I think they’re mine) have their own tastes but we have lots of common ground. Both of the boys dig Lynyrd.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. I also got to see Lynyrd, but in Hersey, PA. Even after we got there, we were invited by the Heresy staff to up grade out tix free of charge to row 27, which was perfect. I thought the Lynyrd set was pretty decent. The band itself was just on overdrive. I love the old stuff with Ronnie, but I wish they would have played a few more from the Johnny era. But all and all, they did put on a great show. Hank JR, Blackberry Smoke also did great shows that were great and I left with a new prospective on Blackberry Smoke. To the point that I am getting ready to order some of their music. Hank JR, I saw back in 95 during the Hogwild Tour. I thought he was good, but some of friends, felt that Hank JR disappointed because of his political views he told on stage. But, that’s kind of expected. At the last minute, Tom Hambridge was announced to open the show at 6:00 p.m. Not a big fan of his, but hearing stories about the songs he wrote or contributed to was pretty cool. My only disappointment was getting out of the parking lot. It took us almost and hour and a half to get out the lot and another half hour to get to the highway.

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    1. I actually kinda prefer the pre-crash stuff. It’s what I cut my teeth on and I don’t even know most of the rest of their stuff. ‘Skynryd Nation’ e.g, sounds like generic rock to me. Funny how the three or four people I know of who saw Skynyrd saw completely different opening bands. I think I’ve heard Blackberry Smoke before but I’ll have to give them another listen. Hank Jr. interests me neither musically nor politically. I don’t even know who Hambridge is.

      As to parking, that’s why we paid the extra 50 bucks. Home in an hour.

      Liked by 1 person

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