Not even nearly losing my home to a 1,500 acre brush fire in the afternoon, or walking very painfully with a knee-brace and a crutch, or the hour drive on smoky rush hour highways into (yuck--> ) downtown Orlando were gonna keep me from seeing the Van-Zant brothers perform together!
Though I arrived later than scheduled, I met up with many frynds at the HOB restaurant about 1/2 hour before the doors opened. Wailer, Southpaw, War-man, JVZLooky-lyke, Jane Van-Zant, Net, Calicia, Ralph and the crowd came from all over Florida and beyond to go to this historical show. We headed for the concert side of the HOB, not quite believing that this day had finally arrived!.
First stop was the merchandise booth. There were 2 different photos of Donnie & Johnny together, hats, t-shirts, and CD's (signed or unsigned) available. Leaving there with considerably lighter wallets, we made our way into the bar/stage area to wait for this show we have been dreaming of since B2B.
The KATIES opened the show, (they also opened for Skynyrd before) and were very good... but hard to pay attention to when Van-Zant was in the house, LOL! The HOB wasn't sold out by any stretch of the imagination... but it WAS a Tueday night, and those present were certainly an appreciative crowd. Also attending the show and hanging out in the crowd were Gary Moffat (.38 drummer), Marlene Van-Zant (D&J's sister), Ashley Van-Zant (Donnie's wife), Lisa... uh... soon to be Van-Zant (Johnny's fiance), Big Joe Chesney (the jerky guy & Skynyrd's friend), and Larry Junstrom (.38's bass player). Probably some others I didn't spot.
Finally... the KATIES were done and the curtains closed. Our hearts was beating a million miles an hour in anticipation. Our group of frynds was FRONT and CENTER of the stage (of course!) We eagerly waited for that curtain to re-open... and when it did... WOW!!!
Both brothers were dressed all in black. Donnie was wearing his black hat, black leather jacket, black shirt & pants and a gold cross. Johnny was wearing a black Indian motorcycle shirt from Long Beach, Ca., black velvet lace up pants, some casual suede shoes, a silver cross and a silver wallet chain. Donnie and Johnny were also wearing those matching million mega-watt smiles. The boys were lookin' GOOD!
The rest of the band were... guitarists: Erik Lungren (former JVZ Band)and Jeff Flannery (a young looking guy from the Florida Keys <-- he's 31, I asked him, LOL), bass - Gary "Mojo" Hensley; Bobby Capps on keyboards and Michael Cartellone on drums.
They got the crowd moving right from the start with "Oklahoma". Everyone was just in awe... an excellent song on the CD, but even better LIVE! They were very obviously having a great time, the whole band was. They went right into "Show Me" and "Livin' a Lie"... again, even better live. They slowed down a bit for the beautiful "Heart of an Angel". Then right back into kickin' our butts with "Downright and Dangerous", "Rage" and "At Least I'm Free". Donnie and Johnnie switched back and forth with vocals on most all the songs, it was so cool! They continued their assault with "Right Side Up", "Baby Got Blue", "Is It For Real", "Wild Eyed Southern Boys" and "Call Me the Breeze".
Then it happened. Two stools were brought out, and Johnny and Donnie each took one, Donnie with his guitar. Two microphones were lined up to the stools, and... you guessed it, they began "Brickyard Road". There was SOOO much emotion coming from the stage, and from the crowd as they sang this moving tribute to Ronnie, I don't think there was a dry eye in the place. I mean goose bumps and hairs standing on end. You could almost feel Ronnie's presence in the room, and you knew he had to be so proud of his brothers. They changed the words a little... the part that went "Mama and Daddy are doin' all right..." was changed to "Mama's in Heaven, Daddy's doin' all right". As they sang those words, they looked into each other's eyes... just made you want to break down. Jeff Flannery played the violin... it made this song even more hauntingly beautiful. It was so much more than just a song... it was an experience. I'll never forget it.
After catching our collective breaths, they played the Rolling Stones "Last Time"... Van-Zant style! It was COOL! Then they left the stage, which was not cool, LOL.
After a short break, they came out for a one song encore... their single, "Get What You Got Coming". Killer!!!
This show was most definitly worth the wait... and I can only hope they continue to record and tour together when time allows. If there's a show in your area and you're thinking about going... don't even think, just go! You won't regret it, promise!
Enjoy the shows, and please send reviews and pix for me to post on this