Despite some ongoing drizzle, Starship featuring Mickey Thomas visited Hamden on July 12 as part of the town’s Free Summer Concert Series. After years of legal battles with Jefferson Airplane/Starship co-founder Paul Kantner, Thomas (who joined the original Jefferson Starship back in 1979) split off and formed his own touring version of the band, which has been active since 1992. On Friday, Thomas and crew took the stage with a rocking version of “Layin’ It On The Line,” from 1984’s Nuclear Furniture. From there, he led the group through a solid string of their hits. The songs ranged from 70s rockers like “Jane” and “Count On Me” to the 80s megahits “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” and “Sara.” In fact, the setlist touched on all eras of the band’s existence, including a nod to the Jefferson Airplane days with vocalist Stephanie Calvert (a Connecticut native) doing an excellent job on “Somebody To Love” and “White Rabbit.” Calvert’s voice was outstanding throughout the show, and it was a good match for Thomas’ own vocals, which are still in fine form.
The band was tight and focused, with John Roth’s energetic guitar, neat bass lines from Jeff Adams, Darrell Verdusco’s solid drum work and cool keyboards from Phil Bennett, including an extended solo to introduce “Find Your Way Back.” In between, there were some surprises, including “Set The Night To Music,” originally recorded by Starship, which later became a hit for Roberta Flack & Maxi Priest, as well as performances of a couple of the group's deeper cuts, “Winds of Change” and “Stranger.” Thomas also got the crowd dancing and arm waving with a great version of “Fooled Around & Fell In Love,” which he recorded with Elvin Bishop back in 1976. The on again, off again showers returned at a steadier pace by the time the band came back for their encore, the guilty pleasure “We Built This City,” which music critics hate, but the audience sure loved it, judging from the raucous response. Then Starship sailed off into the night, and according to one friend of this writer, arrived at a local pub for an after show drink.
A few words about the excellent opening act, New Haven’s own Beach Avenue. They played a solid opening set, including tracks from their just released EP, Driving That Road, which is worth checking out. The band has some great songs; lead singer Nick Fradiani’s voice reminded me a bit of Matchbox 20’s Rob Thomas. I particularly liked “Songman” and “Freight Train,” both of which are featured on the new EP. And how many rock bands do you know that cover Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” as part of their set? Definitely a band to watch.
|Beach Avenue performing at the show - photo by John V|
Here are links to Starship performing “Jane” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6EghCZaWsM and Beach Avenue with “Can’t Get Enough” http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=3XILTqpNY-A.
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