Lake Tahoe got a taste of the 1960s and ’70s rock Saturday night, when Jefferson Starship landed in the South Shore Room at Harrahs Casino for a throwback show in front of a packed house.
Sadly short one member, after founding guitarist Paul Kantner passed Jan. 28, Jefferson Starship still put on a terrific show, playing a wide range of classic tunes for an enthusiastic crowd. The group faithfully reproduced Starship’s vintage sound, with a mellow, rock vibe underscoring a blend searing electric guitar solos and soaring female vocals.
Original member David Freiberg held down some vibrant vocals, singing with an intensity and power that belied his gentle demeanor, slight stature, and fuzzy head of white hair. A man seated nearby continually yelled out “Yeah Dave, you still got it baby! Wooooo,” in testament to the musician’s lasting power.
Jefferson Airplane morphed into Jefferson Starship in 1974. Singer Grace Slick retired in 1988 and Marty Balin left 20 years later after a reunion tour. Both artists have changed their craft to painting. Jack Casady and Pete Sears play in the band Moonalice. Papa John Creach died in 1994.
Darby Gould and Rachel Rose shared lead female vocals, taking turns singing lead and backup, with Freiberg jumping in as well. They kept the crowd cheering and clapping along to a slew of classic Starship tunes. The singers pushed for as much audience interaction as they could, routinely encouraging the crowd to clap with the beat, sing along, or call and respond to chorus lines.
“No set would be complete without a singalong, if you recognize this one, you sing along with it,” Gould said before launching into “Count On Me.”
Guitarist Jude Gould captivated the audience during a break for the rest of the band, playing his interpretation of Jorma Kaukonen’s “Embryonic Journey,” an instrumental from 1967’s “Surrealistic Pillow.” With fingers flying across the fret board of a beautiful black and gold Fender Telecaster, he tore through the tune at impressive speed, cascading cross-picked notes and ringing triads across the room.
Birthday girl Rose took a turn on the lead mic for “White Rabbit,” stepping to the front with a determined look in her eye as the swirling psychedelic opening and march-like drumbeat drew a rousing roar from the crowd. She also took lead on “Miracles,” which got much of the audience up and on its feet.
“Oh yeah, now we’re into the starship,” one stoked fan yelled out repeatedly. “Oh yeah!”
Freiberg brought his wife Linda Imperial out at one point to sing along on“Fresh Air” by Quicksilver Messenger Service.
“Oh man, I feel so short,” Imperial joked as she stepped up to a microphone.
“Me too,” her diminutive husband agreed.
“That’s OK, you’re large in our eyes,” a fan shouted.
Jefferson Starship sounded surperb, and the crowd ate it up with aplomb. Somewhere out there in the cosmos, Paul Kantner was smiling.
To see more Lake Tahoe concert photography by Kurt E. Johnson, please visit his website HERE