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Thursday, 4 June 2015

MANASSAS: I WAS THERE WHEN…JOE WALSH & BARNSTORM STOLE STEPHEN STILLS’ THUNDER IN 1973

joe walsh pub pic 2012 02bWith “I Was There When…,” veteran music journalist Doug Collette reflects on his experiences in the glory days of live rock music. With each column, he takes us back to a specific concert he attended way back when, spotlighting bands like The Who, Pink Floyd, and The Allman Brothers Band, among many others.
Saratoga Performing Arts Center; Saratoga, New York (July 30th, 1973)
Joe Walsh and Stephen Stills had been neighbors before they arranged this co-billing in the summer of 1973, and they each offered their own paeans to the mile-high state in their sets at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. The latter’s “Colorado” was set in a context of ensemble craftsmanship that was easier to admire than be moved by — a capsule summary of his career with the band Manassas — while the former’s “Rocky Mountain Way” was the touchpoint of a seamless performance by a true band, Barnstorm, that challenged the attention span of the audience perhaps as much as it stretched the capabilities of the musicians themselves.
That’s because Walsh, bassist Kenny Passarelli, keyboardist Rock Grace, and drummer Joe Vitale pushed themselves far beyond the arrangements of songs from the two albums (Barnstorm and The Smoker You Drink, the Player You Get) the leader had recorded since leaving the James Gang. In fact, Walsh and company’s musicianship was a logical extension of his work with the seminal American power trio, but the quartet upped the ante far beyond grand power chords and thundering crescendos (though those elements played an important part in the dynamics of the concert).
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