Don Felder and John Waite – Buck Hill – Burnsville MN – July 12, 2019
With Lou Gramm, Don Felder and The Guess Who headlining each of the three nights this weekend, The Buck Hill Concert Series truly was like a 92 KQRS playlist come to life.
I was able to make it out Friday night to see Don Felder and John Waite and I can say the evening did not disappoint. As almost a test to see who could withstand the heat, the sun beat down on the hyped-up audience at the bottom of the hill for what ultimately became a fiery night of classic rock.
Having not been to the Twin Cities in almost a decade, there was some genuine anticipation to see 80’s soundtrack mainstay, John Waite. With a very modest 4-piece band(the drummer had like two drums for a drumset!), the red headed, blue eyed soul singer, Waite sauntered out to the stage dressed in a long black trench coat and sunglasses. His hair draped down over his face, he immediately captured the audience, unleashing one of the more compelling catalog of hit songs from the English Rocker.
From the late 70’s power pop of The Babys, with whom Waite originally cut his teeth to the 80’s hair metal supergroup, Bad English(why did that band even exist!?) and his unmistakable solo hits, Waite had the crowd in the palm of his sweaty hands making all the music his very own.
One after another, “Midnight Rendezvous”, “Change”, “When I See You Smile” and “Best of What I Got”, Waite effortlessly demonstrated the real mastery of his voice. Waite seemed to ignore any discomfort from the heat, belting out each song with the crowd singing along. I was like, “Someone should give that guy some water, he looks like he’s going to explode!!”
Along the way, there was a nod to Bob Dylan and Minnesota with “All Along the Watchtower”, the inevitable “Missing You” which of course made the crowd swoon and ultimately, Waite’s own roots showed through on Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” where he honestly might’ve even outdone Robert Plant himself.
With a cool strut and victory lap, flanked by his band members, John showed appreciation to the crowd, “Now if you don’t mind I am going to find some air conditioning and beer… and some more air conditioning and you know what? Likely more beer. Thank you!”
John Waite can not come back to Minnesota soon enough!
Like something out of a storybook, the sunset at the top of Buck Hill threw a beautiful array of colors into the sky as the temperature adjusted for the cool vibes that guitarist Don Felder brought to the stage.
Clean cut in a pure white jean jacket, Felder and tight backup band eased in a string of Eagles tunes for which he was a crucial element. “Already Gone”, “One of these Nights”, “Peaceful Easy Feeling”, Victim of Love” and “The Long Run”, Felder showed prowess while delivering each unmistakable solo.
Digging into some of his own personal favorites he asked the audience, “Does anyone like the Blues?” before paying tribute to Texas guitar legend, Stevie Ray Vaughan with “Pride and Joy”. He also toasted the memory of his old bandmate, the late Glenn Frey – performing “Tequila Sunrise”.
Not before digging into his own solo work, “Heavy Metal(Takin’ a Ride)” and “American Rock ‘N’ Roll”, the evening had settled in at Buck Hill. For the perfect Summer night setting, Felder pulled out his signature double neck guitar to close out the set with the ultimate sing along and guitar shred, “Hotel California”.
It was an awesome closer and wonderful way to kick off an ultra hot weekend.
Review Danny Sigelman photos Tommy Sommers