Sammy Hagar can still crank up his Les Paul in your face.
Opening his Lake Tahoe show Aug. 16 with “There’s Only One Way To Rock,” the ageless Red Rocker seems to defy time.
His party time, hard-rocking heavy metal still inspires visceral head shaking, air guitar and consumption of copious amounts of booze from the fans called Red Heads.
Hagar and the bass player he’s been with since Van Halen, Michael Anthony, chugged from a Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum bottle at the beginning of the Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena at Harveys performance in front of an estimated crowd of 6,000.
As it’s been for more than four decades, a concert involving Hagar is an occasion to celebrate. Seriously inebriation ensues. Several folks walked arm in arm, a friend holding up a friend who was too drunk to stumble on his own. Red Heads don’t let buddies who Wabo fall down.
Hagar’s screaming vocal style caught up to him in Tahoe. He had Anthony address the audience at the start of the encore as the CEO of Rock drank hot liquid from a tea cup. He’s 66 and at the end of the show admitted his “ass was kicked.”
But he also kicked ass, working through it all with another stellar performance for his adoring fans.
Cognizant of an amazing and lengthy career, Hagar’s tour is called “Journey Through the History of Rock.” With Jason Bonham on drums, songs included not just the greatest from Hagar, but some of the best from Led Zeppelin.
The son of Led Zeppelin’s John “Bonzo” Bonham,” Jason Bonham wore black shades, a black beard and a cowboy hat. He provided powerful percussion and he also looked intimidating enough to beat up a roadie, just like his dad did down in Oakland before the Led Zeppelin’s final U.S. show. But when Bonham addressed the crowd, he spoke with a friendly high pitch and a thick British accent.
“This is one of the greatest and most-fun tours I have ever done,” Bonham said. “The Red Heads are the best. And so are the Led Heads.”
In a key lower than he usually sings, Hagar covered “Whole Lot of Love,” “When the Levee Breaks,” “Good Times, Bad Times,” Bonham’s best known song, “Moby Dick,” and, during the encore, “Rock and Roll.”
After Hagar took the lead guitar duties from Vic Johnson for a rousing solo on the trip to Chicago with “Levee,” the band played a slow, bluesy version of “Little White Lie.” Bonham drummed with one hand and took cell phone images with the other.
Hagar clicked off the year of each of the major hits, from 1973’s “Rock Candy” with Montrose to 1988’s Van Halen song about the Red Rocker’s blue balls, “Finish What You Started.”
“This is home,” said Hagar, who later thanked supporters of his 10-year Lake Tahoe Cabo Wabo Cantina at Harveys. “Now ff you don’t mind, I am going to get a little drunk, eat some tacos and if I get really lucky might get a little pussy.”
Editor’s note: The slideshow images are by John C. Cocores. Go to his Facebook page to see more photos CLICK.
“Journey Through the History of Rock”
Aug. 16, 2014
Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena at Harveys
“There’s Only One Way to Rock”
“Good Times, Bad Times”
“I Can’t Drive 55”
Michael Anthony bass solo
“When It’s Love”
“Whole Lotta Love”
“Little White Lie”
“When the Levee Breaks”
“Why Can’t This Be Love”
“Finish What You Started”
“Best of Both Worlds”
“Rock and Roll”