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Review: Lynyrd Skynyrd at The Sage Gateshead

Even a simple man can explain the allure of Lynyrd Skynyrd two years shy of the band’s 50th anniversary.

Even a simple man can explain the allure of Lynyrd Skynyrd two years shy of the band’s 50th anniversary.

The appeal of songs dealing in drinking, women and partying transcends generations and these Southern Rock boys deliver them in spades.

More pertinently, they do it with big smiles and an infectious love for their trade.

No sooner had the AC/DC introduction tape run its course than the crowd was on its feet, generally going wild. Many of the wildest were old enough to know better.

Gary Rossington might be the only remaining founder member but fellow guitar hero Ricky Medlocke isn’t far behind.

The charismatic six-stringers have been at the heart of all things Skynyrd since 1970 and continue to add credibility, quality and cool assurance to the band.

As musicians they are technically gifted and constantly improvising peas in a pod. As on-stage personalities they could hardly be more different.

Medlocke, with his receding white hair flowing in the spotlights, cuts a manic figure at 62, pulling faces and larking around. Rossington represents the serious side of Skynyrd.

Introspective and serious, his is the performance of a man who cares deeply about a legacy almost lost, yet still evolving.

Their juxtaposition simply adds to the visual treat that is a full Lynyrd Skynyrd show.

The bustling pocket rocket that is Johnny Van Zant looks totally out of place next to giant former Black Crowes bass player Johnny Colt.

Meanwhile, pretty boy guitarist Mark Matejka cuts quite a dash alongside top-hatted ringmaster Peter Keys, and hirsute drummer Michael Cartellone looks like he’s just been ditched by Foreigner.

But when it comes to the music, Skynyrd’s members sing from the same hymn sheet.

Spine-tingling versions of Sweet Home Alabama and Freebird will inevitably live long in the memories of those present but Simple Man, That Smell and Gimme Back My Bullets were the brilliant highlights.

When Van Zant sang Gimme Three Steps, it didn’t seem quite enough. The freedom of Gateshead would have been a worthier reward after a truly outstanding show.

Simon Rushworth

 

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