1996 gig boosted by archive footage...
One here for most Southern Rock fans to enjoy; two performances recorded for the Rockpalast broadcast series, the set concentrates on the full performance from the 1996 Loreley Festival. Yes this is the reformed band, who some purists might call a tribute band. On this showing there is some strength in that argument. The 14 track set concentrates on the original material, thankfully avoiding much of the more AOR reformation material.
The power is good, the performance good, the songs excellent. Who can argue with a set that opens with "Workin' For MCA" and takes you through "I Ain't The One", "Saturday Night Special" and the excellent "Gimme Three Steps"?
By this time Blackfoot main man, guitarist and onetime Skynyrd drummer Rickey Medlocke added to the triple guitar attack. Founder members Gary Rossington (guitar), Leon Wilkinson (bass) and Billy Powell (keyboards) were still around, so the quality is good, and the band look like they're having some a ball (silly hats included), even if at times there is a feel of going through the motions.
"Swamp Music", "That Smell", "What's Your Name" and of course "Sweet Home Alabama" are all run through with aplomb. No set would be complete with the classic "Freebird", the epitome of Southern Rock, a track essential in any record collection. Even if nicely covered by Ronnie Van Zant's brother Johnny.
A good (almost excellent) performance that somehow leaves you thinking there's something lacking.
As a bonus, now this is what the fans will want, and it's what justifies this release, is 3 tracks from Hamburg 1974. Performed with all the swagger and arrogance you'd expect from the band, the tracks sound so much more honest, with feeling and power. "Workin' For MCA" was an opener back then too, and "Freebird" and "Sweet Home Alabama" sound great too.
A good package, saved by the 1974 material. If that performance was in full, the set really would be essential.
Review by Joe Geesin