Sammy Hagar and the Circle rock the Lewiston NY Artpark.
Updated: Aug 23
Sammy Hagar and the Circle Lewiston NY Artpark June 4th, 2019
Sammy Hagar and the Circle opened up the Lewiston NY Artpark for their summer concert series with a two hour trip through the red rocker’s career playing everything from his solo material, Montrose, Led Zeppelin and of course Van Halen. The band is even playing six songs from their latest studio album, Space Between. Hagar even made it clear that the band’s current album has charted as high as number four on the mainstream Billboard charts and how today’s rappers must be asking themselves “Who is this Sammy Hagar and the Circle?”
After a brief video montage out walked Sammy Hagar, Michael Anthony, Jason Bonham, and Vic Johnson being introduced over the loudspeakers and kicking out their single Trust Fund Baby with the music video on the big screens.
Hagar and the Circle proved with the title of the second song that There’s Only One Way to Rock as the performance and playing went into high gear early in the show. Hagar wore white jeans and a black T-shirt with a simple skull artwork but he’s looking better, leaner, and in more shape than the last time I saw him three years ago. Sammy was jumping, dancing, waving hands in the air, and occasionally playing guitar throughout the show. He was even climbing upstage scaffolding on each side of the stage at points. All this from a man who is… 71 and still can’t drive 55 as he rocked out the song playing guitar solo after solo all night.
Guitarist Vic Johnson was hobbled onto the stage and seated for the whole show due to a broken leg but he still played as if in full health. Hagar and Anthony consistently went over to where Johnson was seated making him a part of the show despite his injury.
A nice little surprise in Lewiston was having Night Ranger’s Jack Blades (who opened the show with Night Ranger: see review below) come onto the stage to sing background vocals with Anthony on Finish What Ya Started and boy was he having fun. The fun factor was high at this show and so was the connection with Sammy and his redhead fans. Whatever was thrown on stage Sammy was generous enough to autograph and throwback. He even would wear clothes thrown onstage, sign them, and throw them back. Such was the case when a Buffalo Sabres hockey jersey with Hagar's name printed on the back alongside the number 55 was tossed to him. When Sammy joked that he still wants to be playing music when he’s 85 you certainly can believe it. Will it be due to his audience connection or his homegrown tequila?
The setlist mainly consisted of Hagar solo songs and Van Halen hits like Why Can’t This Be
Love or an excellent Right Now. While no one is on stage playing keyboards I can tell you that any keyboards you hear have been pre-recorded by virtuoso musician, Robert Berry. The crowd was treated to the Montrose classic Rock Candy that pretty much cemented Sammy’s introduction to the rock world back in 1973. Since The Circle has Jason, son of Led Zeppelin drummer, John Bonham, pounding out the beats it was a given they had to do at least one Led Zeppelin cover with the aptly titled Rock n Roll.
Click on the following link to see Sammy Hagar and the Circle perform Van Halen's Why Can't This Be Love.
The only time things went quieter from the hard-rocking night was when the red rocker
did an acoustic version of Eagles Fly. With Johnson’s broken leg only Hagar and Anthony did the 5150 walk for Best of Both Worlds.
They ended the night with two songs off the new album. The last song had all four members at the center microphone singing on Without Greed.
Seeing and hearing how great Hagar and Anthony were Eddie and Alex need to know they are missing out on what could be some great musical moments in a full-scale Van Halen reunion.
Sammy Hagar and The Circle setlist
Trust Fund Baby
There’s Only One Way To Rock
Three Lock Box
I Can’t Drive 55
Finish What Ya Started
Devil Came to Philly
Full Circle Jam (Chump Change)
Why Can’t This Be Love
Rock and Roll
Eagles Fly Best of Both Worlds
Night Ranger opened the night with an energetic fun 45-minute set that made everyone feel as if it was the 80's all over again. Vocalist / bassist Jack Blades might be a bit older, but he and the rest of the band worked the stage like young men in their 20's running around and jumping off speakers. Guitarist Brad Gillis played out hook after hook with fellow guitarist Keri Kelli who was throwing out guitar picks to fans throughout the set.
While hits like Four in the Morning and Sister Christian had everyone singing along with hands in the air the highlight was the rare Night Ranger which included the most original and fun drum solo I've seen in a long time. Drummer Kelly Keagy was joined on his drum set by the four other members of the band taking on a different drum and all hitting in time. Jack Blades even took time to acknowledge his former bandmates, Tommy Shaw and Ted Nugent before the band broke into Damn Yankees High Enough.
At the end of their set, the verdict was the same, 45 minutes was way too short and everyone would like to see Night Ranger come back to Artpark next time and do a full set.
Night Ranger setlist
(You Can Still Rock) in America
Four in the Morning
Sing Me Away
Night Ranger (with drum solo)
When You Close Your Eyes
Don't Tell Me You Love Me (with part of Highway Star)
The Artpark in Lewiston New York is a perfectly situated 108-acre state park that hosts a summer filled with concerts and events. The main outside Amphitheater consists of an outdoor stage with seating in the front-of-stage viewing area, tiered lawn sections for general seating and reserved seating, and a fabric-covered terrace for sponsored seating. There is a beautiful park by the parking area that is great for picnics and hanging out before the shows. The Artpark has a top-notch professional event and security staff.
Thanks to sponsorships from M&T Bank there are Tuesday night shows with ticket prices averaging around 20 dollars depending on the show. There is no better way to spend a Tuesday night. Check out the link for upcoming shows and events at the best venue in the Niagara region for summer fun.