Worcester Telegram and Gazette 1995 Review
CAN'T STOP ROCKIN' NEVER STARTED \ ONLY PAT BENATAR'S SET
Roberta Fusaro; Telegram & Gazette Reviewer
MANSFIELD MANSFIELD - More than 12,000 people indulged their need for nostalgia and attended the "Can't Stop Rockin' Tour" Saturday at the Great Woods Center for Performing Arts. The crowd's size was impressive by promoters' standards, and included a good mix of older and younger music fans.
But an attendance of 12,000 is not so impressive when you consider that each act on the tour - Fleetwood Mac, REO Speedwagon, Pat Benatar and Orleans - in its heyday could draw a crowd at least that big, and probably bigger, on its own. Personnel changes, tiffs with record labels, music fads, fickle fans and the march of time have been cruel to these bands. Instead of headlining slots, they have been given an hour or so each to perform in this "lame"-apalooza type of gig.
Of the four, only Pat Benatar and her revamped band could provide a vital, entertaining set of new songs and guilty-pleasure classics. Progenitor of today's riot grrrl rockers, Benatar proved she's still down with the power chords, even without the spandex. She is without a record label right now (Chrysalis dropped her last year), but still has the operatically trained high range that has always distinguished her voice from those of her new wave peers.
Benatar and band - featuring in this incarnation her husband Neil Giraldo on guitar, longtime drummer Myron Grombacher, Mick Mahan on bass and Susie Davis on keyboard and guitar - successfully mixed the old with the new. They started with the big drum sound of "Shadows of the Night," moved through the jittery synth and martial beat of "We Belong" and into the pouty kiss-off number "Heartbreaker." Benatar, good sport that she is, even allowed an overzealous fan to wrest the microphone from her during the closing note of "Hit Me With Your Best Shot." She had invited four women from the audience to help her with the number; one of them got a little carried away. Benatar seemed amused.
REO Speedwagon attempted to bring its arena-rock anthems and attitude - "How ya doin' Boston?" - into the grunge-ridden'90s and failed miserably. Their set didn't even work as kitsch. If Spinal Tap was rock 'n' roll satire, these guys are the real thing. Every number included extralong, uninventive guitar solos. Lead singer Kevin Cronin, still sporting a mop of hair and skinny ties with his T-shirts, felt it necessary to "jump"-cue the band out of every song. Someone should tell Cronin that split kicks have gone the way of eight-track tapes and David Lee Roth videos.
Fleetwood Mac fared much better than REO in its hour-plus set; they performed the night's closing set. Still, the new Mac unit - with Bekka Bramlett in the Stevie Nicks role and Steve Thoma on keyboards instead of Christine McVie - begs comparison to the "Rumours"-era lineup which is obviously no longer. Bramlett has a smoky, soulful voice, and added a real roadhouse bar band feel to "Gold Dust Woman" and "You Make Lovin' Fun." But when they saw Bramlett in her skin-tight red leathers, and not Nicks, many in the crowd took the band literally, about halfway through the set, and started to go it's own way - out to the parking lot.
Orleans opened with a 20-minute set of bland '70s hits including "Still the One" and "Dance With Me."
1995-07-24 Number of views: