Review – Lynyrd Skynyrd Brings Southern Classic Rock to DPAC

Posted: November 9, 2013 by MichaelSmithNC in All, Concert, Music, Show Review
Tags: ,


On October 20, 1977 one of the greatest bands in the history of our country came to abrupt end. That was the day the plane that was chartered to transport Lynyrd Skynyrd to Louisiana crashed in Mississippi killing founder Ronnie Van Zant and band members Steve and Cassie Gaines.

Fast-forward to 1987, original band-members Gary Rossington, Billy Powell, Artimus Pyle and Leon Wilkeson brought in Ed King and Ronnie’s little brother Johnny and decided that Lynyrd Skynyrd should make a return. What was originally supposed to be a short-term tribute to the original line-up has turned into almost 30 years of sold out shows and southern rock greatness.

On Thursday night the current incarnation of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band made a stop at the Durham Performing Arts center for a night of classic southern rock.

Lead Singer: Johnny Van Zant
Guitar: Gary Rossington
Guitar: Rickey Medlocke
Guitar: Mark Matejka
Bass Guitar: Johnny Colt
Piano: Peter Keys
Drums: Michael Cartellone

The show opened with a 30 second intro cartoon from the Adult Swim show Squidbillies that really made me a bit curious as to what was coming. Following the short, the band took the stage to a roar from the crowd and started their set with “That Smell.” For the nest 90 minutes we were taken on a trip through the greatest hits of Lynyrd Skynyrd.

The set included:

“Call Me the Breeze”
“Comin Home”
“Down South Jukin’”
“Gimme Back my Bullets”
“Gimme Three Steps”
“I Know a Little”
“I Ain’t the One”
“Saturday Night Special”
“Tuesday’s Gone”
“What’s Your Name”
“You Got That Right”

About halfway through the show Johnny stopped the show to speak to the crowd. He spoke poignantly and sincerely about the men and women serving in the armed forces. He offered them thanks and dedicated their next song, “Simple Man”, to all of them. This seemed to really resonate with this crowd as there was excellent crowd participation in the sing-along portions of the song.

One the two high-points of the show should come as no surprise, it was the second to last song of the night. Everyone in the building joined the band in an over-the-top performance of “Sweet Home Alabama.” From the way the crowd was “in it” you would have thought DPAC was in Birmingham and not Durham.

The night ended with a performance of “Free Bird” that really exceeded my expectations. The song itself doesn’t really lend itself to be a “close-out the night” type of song. Hearing it live and seeing the performance on stage seemed to amplify the magnitude of the song 4-5 times over making it fit perfectly. I was completely sucked in as they broke the song down into each of its instrumental parts; piano, guitar and bass guitar. As each musician played his part, an image of the original band-member playing the same part from 1977 was shown on the big screen as a wonderful tribute.  The song was given the respect and energy it deserved as it took well over 15-20 minutes for the complete performance all while keeping the crowd completely hooked throughout.

As the band exited the stage, the crowd gave them the ovation and cheers you would expect for a performance as impressive as the one that was delivered. For anyone who thinks that Lynyrd Skynyrd died in 1977, you are very wrong.

Lynyrd Skynyrd is alive and well!

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