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Lynyrd Skynyrd rocks State Fair grandstand like it's 1977

 

Gary Rossington

Gary Rossington

 

A few thoughts about Lynyrd Skynyrd’s concert Thursday at the Minnesota State Fair:

  1. The set list was classic 1970s Skynyrd, even though the band has made eight studio albums (not counting the Christmas disc) since reuniting in 1987.
  2. Even though they are the steadfast kings of Southern rock, Skynyrd did not display the confederate flag at the fair but they certainly waved the red, white and blue in many ways, including wrapping Johnny Van Zant’s microphone stand with an American flag during “Free Bird.”
  3. Van Zant is a chatterbox with endless mindless lines like “we don’t call you fans. We call you Skynyrd Nation.” The Nation numbered 7,692 people at the grandstand.
  4. Stolid guitarist Gary Rossington, the last of the original band members, leads with quiet strength.
  5. Bassist Johnny Colt, formerly of the Black Crowes who joined Skynyrd in 2012, wore a series of distinctive hats, in the tradition of the late, longtime bassist Leon Wilkeson.
  6. Never a jam band, Skynyrd sounded tight, crisp and forceful. This might have been the best concert of 1977 if singer Van Zant, whose style is crowd-pleasing nonchalance, had half the fire of his brother Ronnie Van Zant, the band’s original lead singer until his death in a plane crash in 1977.
  7. With their beards, long hair, leather, tattoos and sunglasses, the Skynyrd guys look like they’re wearing uniforms.
  8. With all the long hair (including backup singers Dale Krantz Rossington and Carol Chase), Skynyrd should be getting some kind of hair-product endorsements. Don’t cha think?
  9. Skynyrd always gets credit for the soaring guitars on “Free Bird” – which lasted 15 minutes on Thursday – and the swaggering anthem “Sweet Home Alabama.” But the original songwriters crafted some great hooks like “Gimme Three Steps.” However, the highlight for me Thursday was the one song that Rossington and Ronnie Van Zant didn’t write – J.J. Cale’s “Call Me the Breeze,” a really swingin’ tune that kept getting better with every verse.  

 

Johnny Colt

Johnny Colt

 

Black Sabbath's final tour coming Jan. 25 to Target Center

Three out of four original Black Sabbath members will say farewell on tour next year. From left: Geezer Butler, Ozzy Osbourne and Tony Iommi.

Three out of four original Black Sabbath members will say farewell on tour next year. From left: Geezer Butler, Ozzy Osbourne and Tony Iommi.

 

While Twin Cities metal fans were waiting for big news from another legendary band due in town next year, Black Sabbath surprised us today with the announcement of their final tour, the third date of which will be in Minneapolis at Target Center on Jan. 25. Three of the band’s four original members are embarking on what’s officially being billed as “Black Sabbath: The End,” including the ubiquitous Ozzy Osbourne, guitarist Tony Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler.

Tickets to the farewell gig go on sale next Saturday, Sept. 12, at 10 a.m. through AXS.com and the arena’s box office. Prices for the local date have not yet been announced, but seats in other cities range from about $45-$150.

Best known for the classic-rock staples “Paranoid” and “War Pigs” -- and pretty much the band most credited with pioneering heavy metal -- Sabbath also played Target Center on its 1999 reunion tour with all four original guys. Osbourne has performed there solo several times since, the last of which was in 2011. Iommi and Butler also played there in 2007 under the name Heaven and Hell with the late, great Ronnie James Dio on vocals, who replaced Osbourne in the band in 1980.

The lone Sabbath founder out, drummer Bill Ward, has been feuding with his bandmates since they put out the reunion album “13” without him in 2013. He said then that Ozzy's manager/wife Sharon Osbourne would not give him a quarter share of the band's earnings befitting an original member.

Here's the tour's monster-truck-pull-style promo video below.

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