"There's only one way to rock" goes one of Sammy Hagar's most popular songs.
Really. Tell that to Sonic Youth, the Chemical Brothers, Public Enemy, even Janet Jackson (or rather, her producers, Jam and Lewis), all of whom have come up with new ways to rock an have kept the music breathing with excitement.
That is not to suggest that Hagar's music lacks excitement or even that his brand of rock is the purest and most traditional. But his music is rock at its most un-reconstructed--an act that's difficult to keep interesting.
Miraculously, Hagar managed to keep things interesting at his Eagles Ballroom show Friday night. In fact, when he burst forth with "There's Only One Way to Rockl" as his second song, it covered the room with a wall of noise, rocking more fiercely and dangerously than on record. Nothing that followed matched its intensity, but Hagar's enthusiasm more than made up for it.
Actually, it's slightly surprising hearing such reactionary sentiments like "there's only one way to rock" coming from Hagar. This is, after all, the rocker who's covered Van Morrison, Patti Smith, Donovan and Paul Revere and the Raiders during his solo career after a stint with hard rock dinosaurs Montrose. Would Ozzy Osbourne attempt covering such a mixed bag? Best of all, his eclectic tastes extend to his own band members, too.
On stage with Hagar were a hippie drummer, a burned-out keyboardist, an African-American guitarist (perhaps the only African-American in the room) and a bassist who resembled a motorcycle mama version of Tura Satana--the Japanese-Apache cult star of "Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill!"
Not your typical hard-rock ensemble.
At times, Hagar seemed to have a need to explain his "progressivism." He told the crowd that some people have questioned his choice of a woman as bassist, then let her prove herself by giving her a solo turn.
Nonetheless, Hagar's interaction with the audience is what saved the show from heavy metal tedium. After he spilled a front-row fan's beer, he got a roadie to bring him a fresh one. He even sang to some lucky couch potato via a cell phone that was passed to him from the audience.
Rather than express bitternessover his messy breakup with Van Halen, Sammy Hagar was overjoyed just to be still rocking-- even if he only knows one way to do it.
Thanks to Ron Higgins for transcribing this review.