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Hard Rock Cafe, Los Angeles - 03/20/99

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

"We're not playing any concerts this time," Sammy Hagar said as he took the stage at the Hard Rock Cafe in Los Angeles, "We're only playing parties!" Sammy and his band, the Waboritas, then went on to prove that as they delivered a charismatic one-hour set that was filled with hits from Sammy's solo era, the Van Halen years and, of course, his latest CD, "Red Voodoo" (click here to read our review).

The Los Angeles Hard Rock Cafe gig was one stop on Sammy's current mini-tour in support of "Red Voodoo." Only 500 people got tickets to each show and the Los Angeles group was part of a special treat: Sammy did a one-hour interview prior to the live performance with legendary DJ Jim Ladd that was broadcast across the country.

During this interview, Sammy explained his new venture (making tequila, click here for more information), the origins of "Red Voodoo" (it's that zone you get into right after you get your first buzz but way before you get violently ill), why he never had a drink until he was over 30 years old (his father died of alcohol-related symptoms at the age of 55), why he drinks now (because he knows he can handle it) and why he was doing a string of tiny Hard Rock Cafe dates (it's for his "hardcore").

He also explained that he had been sick in bed with a 105 degree temperature the night before and that his voice may not be in tip-top condition. An explanation he proved wrong when the band joined him on stage and they ripped into "Red."

From then on, Sammy and the Waboritas did what they do best: Turned a rock concert into a full-on party. Sammy Hagar has always been one of the best frontmen in the business. He knows how to play to a crowd, how to drive them into a frenzy, how to show them a good time. He proved that again this night. The crowd was eating out of Sammy's hand by the time the third bar of "Red" had been reached. And they welcomed the Waboritas - truly a band of awe-inspiring talent - just as warmly.

Sammy's secret is that it's obvious he's having fun. He loves playing rock'n'roll. So does every member of his band. It's, it's impossible, not to get caught up in the fun of a Sammy Hagar rock concert. The songs are driving rock anthems, the performance is a stunning mix of stage hi-jinx and first class musicianship. That's not some rockstar up there on stage, doing his job. That's Sammy, your buddy, up there and he wants you to party with him!

The band played a bunch of stuff from Sammy's solo days, including "There's Only One Way to Rock" and "I Can't Drive 55" as well as a couple Van Halen tunes ("Why Can't This Be Love?," "Higher and Higher") and some of the new stuff from "Red Voodoo" ("Mas Tequila" became a fist-pumping party anthem, especially when Sammy began pouring shots of Cabo Wabo for the audience). What was especially impressive was that the audience seemed to be as receptive to the new stuff as the old.

Sammy Hagar and the Waboritas begin touring in May in support of the "Red Voodoo" album. Don't miss it. 

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Copyright 1999 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 23 Aug 2016 22:57:16 -0400.