"I’ve tried everything in my life/The things I like, I try ‘em twice…"—R. Van Zant, Lynyrd Skynyrd
It was déjà vu all over again (sort of) on Saturday night, as a year and one day after seeing K.C. favorites Shooting Star in concert at Kearney Amphitheater, I went and saw them again, and experienced a very similar result and another solid concert. Tickets for last year’s show with opening act Head East (or what’s left of them) went for only five bucks, and since that show went over so well, SS was invited to headline again this year, and still attracted a decent crowd (albeit about 2/3 of the size of last year’s throng—I’d say about 1,800 people this time), in spite of the ticket price being doubled. It was nice, though, giving everyone plenty of room to spread out and enjoy themselves. Even better, there were multiple beer lines this year, unlike last year during the venue’s shakedown cruise when the single line was like fifty people deep.
Another improvement over last year was the opening act, Change of Heart, a local Heart tribute band who were a major upgrade over the real Head East, and were quite good. Just like the real McCoy, COH is fronted by two sisters (Barbara and Lisa Bowman—"Ann" and "Nancy", respectively), who were close enough facsimiles to their counterparts to pass. Barbara was especially cute, bearing a slight resemblance to the woman I currently work for, and passed herself off nicely with Ann Wilson’s 1983 torso and 1977 hairstyle—i.e. before the real Ann’s body and hair started really expanding. COH’s second guitar player also kinda sorta looked like former Heart guitarist/keyboardist Howard Leese, but the rest of the band didn’t resemble anyone else from the original group, past or present, but they sounded great. About the only other difference is that Faux Nancy shared more of the lead vocals with Faux Ann, even on songs that the real AW normally sings on like 1985’s "Never", while Faux Ann also occasionally doubled on keyboards. They played a nice mix of Heart’s ‘70s and ‘80s biggies, as well as "All I Want To Do Is Make Love To You" from 1990’s Brigade, which was the last really good album Heart ever made. "Crazy On You", "Kick It Out" and the set-closing "Barracuda" were highlights. I was hoping to hear my all-time Heart favorite, 1985’s "If Looks Could Kill", and we may well have missed it by arriving about ten minutes into the show as they were doing "Who Will You Run To?". Oh well.
Ironically, it’s been 30 years since the one and only time I saw the real Heart live in concert—June 17, 1979 at Arrowhead Stadium, second on the bill with Ted Nugent, The Cars, Sammy Hagar and Missouri. They’re due to play here in town again soon with Journey, but considering today’s outrageous concert ticket prices, I think we got more bang for our buck with Change Of Heart and had just as good a time.
Shooting Star hit the stage just before dark, opening with some newer material that lead up to the old favorites, unlike last year when they reeled off about half-a-dozen of their classics right out of the chute. Same lineup as last year, featuring original guitarist/founder Van McLain and drummer Jeff Thomas, along with lead singer Ronnie Platt, multi-tasking keyboardist Dennis Laffoon (who does The Doors’ Ray Manzarek proud by also doubling on the bass organ) and redheaded violinist Janet Jameson. Apart from E.L.O. and Charlie Daniels Band, Shooting Star is one of the few Rock bands I know of that employs a fiddle player, and certainly the only one I know of with a chick fiddle player, and she’s darn good in place of original violinist Charles Waltz. As was the case last year, "Bring It On", "Last Chance", "Tonight" and "Hang On For Your Life" were the real crowd-pleasers, with the latter bringing everyone to their feet just like a year ago. I wouldn’t mind if they made this an annual event—not a bad show at all for ten bucks. Hell, you can’t even park your freakin’ car for ten bucks at most other concerts.