Concert Security

Security can really help make a concert better or make it much worse.  I have had countless interactions with guards throughout the years and can say that I have generally been satisfied with the way that I am treated.  Exceptions, however, have certainly been pretty bad.

Probably the worst I was ever treated was at a Guns N’ Roses concert at the Sands Bethlehem Event Center in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where the guards forced us to line up in the street for the general admission show, saying that it was against policy to line up on the sidewalk in front of the venue until 5 pm.  This was not printed on the ticket, and when I contacted the venue, they told me that they had been unaware that the rule existed!  These guards were extremely nasty, and several people had altercations with them.  Most of the guards inside the venue were extremely friendly and helpful, but those stationed outside were absolutely miserable.

One of the best experiences I had with security was at a Queen + Adam Lambert show in Atlantic City, New Jersey.  At the beginning of the show, my family and I were physically thrust off of the catwalk (which we had seats up against) as the show began.  This guard, however, was not seen again, and the gentleman who handled our section for the rest of the night could not have been friendlier and added to our overall experience, eventually allowing my sister and I, along with the woman sitting on the side of us, to come up to the catwalk.  I must also give credit to the security at the Slayer show at the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, New Jersey on November 29th, 2013.  The crowd in the general admission pit was extremely rowdy, and the security did a great job keeping everyone safe.  I will say, however, that other events that I have attended at this venue were marked by poor security.  It has really been 50/50 there for me.

I would love to hear your experiences, good and bad, with security guards at concerts – please discuss!

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The Soundtrack of Summer Lights Up Camden!

Synposis
Back in March I bought tickets to this co-headlining show of Foreigner and Styx, with special guest Don Felder. I could not have imagined what a great night of rock I was in store for last night (7/3/14).

Opening Act

I missed much of the opening band, but I was able catch the fact that they were a cover band, and a damn good one at that. I heard their renditions of “Carry on My Wayward Son” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” and was blown away by both. As someone who recently saw Kansas in concert (back in October), I can say that this singer did “Carry on My Wayward Son” more justice than Steve Walsh did. This was definitely a fantastic way to warm the crowd up for what was to be such a prolific show.

Don Felder

After a moving rendition of the Star Spangled Banner sung by one of America’s own servicewomen (which was preceded by a crowd sing-a-long to the Pledge of Allegiance), Don Felder came onstage to a blistering rendition of Eagles’ classic “Already Gone.” Playing a multitude of guitars throughout his set, Don Felder impressed the crowd during every song. It was not, however, until the last few songs that the whole crowd was on their feet. “Heartache Tonight” and “Life in the Fast Lane” rounded out the set before an amazing version of “Hotel California” closed everything out. Tommy Shaw traded off verses with Don Felder through “Hotel California,” adding to the brilliance of the song. The crowd was clearly very happy with Felder’s set, and everyone was certainly itching for the next act to take the stage. Funny story, after Don Felder’s set, I walked up to try to get a copy of the setlist and one of the security guards at the Susquehanna Bank Center very rudely sent me away from the stage (though it would be another 20 minutes until the next act took the stage, and I was Row 2 in the Pit, so it was not like I had come far to get to the front of the stage). I never understand why security has to be so rude, sometimes they are very friendly, but I have been to countless shows, and I have encountered more rude security guards than I can count.

Styx

After Don Felder’s relatively stripped-down set, Styx came out with bunch of large screens and a great stage-setup that really added to the greatness of the set. Coming out to a flaming version of “The Grand Illusion,” Styx quickly got the whole crowd up upon its feet. All of the members of the band were quite “playful” with the audience, adding to the fun of the show. Lawrence Gowan’s spinning keyboards were quite the hit, and he cruised around the stage singing and performing like he had been in the band from the start. When one sees the chemistry of the band, it is hard to imagine that most of them are not originals. While not quite hitting all of Dennis DeYoung’s notes, Gowan did a fabulous job. A highlight of Styx’s set was definitely Lawrence Gowan joking around about their bus’ recently catching fire – he did a spur of the moment performance of The Doors’ classic “Light My Fire,” which led into the giant crowd-pleaser that is “Come Sail Away.” On a more serious not, many thanks were extended to the Philadelphia firemen who quickly put out the fire and prevented any injuries, so they definitely deserve a big shout out! Styx rounded out their set with an encore performance of “Rockin’ the Paradise” and the brilliance that is “Renegade.” The performance really was excellent, with Tommy Shaw, J.Y. Young, Chuck Panozzo, Todd Sucherman, Lawrence Gowan, and Ricky Phillips all in top form. It still is amazing to hear Shaw do those opening lines of “Renegade.”

Foreigner

Up next was Foreigner, who was closing out the show tonight. I believe it should be noted that every few nights, Foreigner and Styx rotate who plays last – THIS is true co-headlining, to me, when one band closes every night, they are the headliner, regardless of how the show is advertised. Foreigner opened up with the classic “Double Vision,” which immediately got the crowd up on its feet. Kelly Hansen sounds amazingly like Lou Gramm (in fact, these days he sounds MUCH better; I saw Lou Gramm back in February and he sounded horrible). I was a little disappointed not to see Mick Jones out at the start of the job, but Bruce Watson did an awesome job; he seems to have a great personality. Foreigner truly has a great bunch of musicians in the band right now. Thom Gimble has played with Aerosmith and Jeff Pilson has played with the likes of Dio and Dokken. The musicianship that is on stage during a Foreigner show clearly is incredible, despite what any naysayers may say about the lack of original members. After wonderful versions of “Head Games,” “Cold as Ice,” and “Waiting for a Girl Like You,” the legend himself, Mick Jones, took the stage. Immediately the band ripped into a blistering version of “Feels Like the First Time,” where Mick, despite being ill for some time, did not miss a beat. The founder of Foreigner is still going strong! Jones himself took to the mic for the cut from the eponymous first Foreigner album, “Starrider,” which received a surprisingly great reaction from the crowd. It was great to see him and Kelly Hansen trading off on vocals. After about a ten-minute long version of “Juke Box Hero,” which rocked the house, the band walked off the stage in preparation for the encore. They began with “I Want to Know What Love Is,” where the Cherokee High School choir was featured (this is not my town’s High School, but it is very close). The mandatory sing-a-long was a ton of fun. The set was closed with the crowd-pleaser “Hot Blooded,” which had the probably 8-10 thousand people in the crowd singing at the top of their lungs! What a great set from such a classic band. Foreigner belongs on these big stages, and I hope they can keep up the momentum that they have gathered over the past decade and keep themselves in venues this size.

The End

A guitar signed by the members of all 3 bands was the prize for the winner of the raffle that many in the crowd participated in. To get a raffle ticket, one had to buy the Soundtrack of Summer CD that many helpers in the crowd were selling. Proceeds would go to the Philadelphia Firemen’s Widows Fund. I really like to see big name acts taking up important causes, especially after the firemen did such a great job keeping the bands safe. I would recommend this show to any rock fan looking for a great time. Ticket prices are very reasonable when compared to most of the other big summer shows. This is not a tour to miss!

 

Journey/Steve Miller Band

I saw this show at the Susquehanna Bank Center on June 22nd, 2014, my second time seeing Journey and first seeing Steve Miller Band.  I greatly enjoyed the show and hope everyone enjoys my review.

Synopsis

I bought tickets for this show back in December, so the anticipation for this show truly was a long time coming.  Additionally, the Susquehanna Bank Center is one of my favorite venues.  Though it is not located in the best of areas, the venue is very well maintained, and I just love the setup of it.  The only real problem there is the parking, which always seems to be a pain.

Opening Act: Tower of Power

Due to the parking situation, I only caught the tail end of their set.  They were entertaining, but I did not find them to be too extraordinary.

Steve Miller Band

As the founding father of the band and its only original member, Steve Miller led the band through a strong set.  Though I am not the biggest fan of the Steve Miller Band, they really grooved throughout the show, and I thoroughly enjoyed their set.  Towards the end of the set, they let loose these giant balloons, which were a lot of fun for the crowd, but I feel that it took away from the music a bit.  Additionally, the encore song of “Fly Like an Eagle” was drawn out way too long.  It seemed like it was never going to end – they might as well have played another song!  All-in-all, it was an enjoyable set, but it was clear that majority of the crowd could not wait for Journey to hit the stage.

Setlist via setlist.fm: http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/steve-miller-band/2014/susquehanna-bank-center-camden-nj-73c04afd.html

Journey

Let’s put one thing straight at the start: I understand singer Arnel Pineda is not the Steve Perry that everyone knows and loves, but he does a damn good job.  The band really has a great level of cohesion – it really seems like they have been playing these songs from the beginning.  I wish they had a curtain that dropped at the start of their set like the Steve Miller Band did – something about curtains that, to me, really adds to the excitement of the beginning of a show.  Journey went through a blistering set that kept everyone in the crowd on their feet for the majority of the performance.  Some lesser known tracks and one cut from one of the albums with Arnel Pineda were played, and while they sounded great to me, the audience seemed a bit less than thrilled.  Despite this, the performance was certainly incredible.  “Don’t Stop Believin” got the amazing crowd response that it surely gets every night.  What a classic.  Journey proved that they really still are carrying on strong.

Setlist via setlist.fm: http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/journey/2014/susquehanna-bank-center-camden-nj-6bc04afe.html

What a great double-billing!