The band walked out and the crowd greeted them with a standing ovation. After milling about the stage and taking in the applause the band busted into "Workin For MCA". They looked great and were smiling as they looked around to see the crowd on its feet rockin to the sway of the beat. Rickey Medlocke and Gary Rossington simultaneously played lead, and like usual they then segued into "I Ain't The One". Johnny Van Zant pranced the stage during "That's How I Like It" from "Vicious Cycle" and the band played tight and in sync with each other. When Johnny sung the words, "Ain't nothing like a Skynyrd crowd", the crowd answered with a ear-piercing roar.
Gary serious as usual, was even smiling at times and the others members seemed to be enjoying themselves as well. Lynyrd Skynyrd went on to do impeccable renditions of "What's Your Name" "Dead Man Walking" and then "That Smell". Ean Evan sure proved he could come awfully close to filling the unfillable shoes of the late great Leon Wilkeson. Rickey Medlocke was even doing his impressions of Allen Collins by jumping and leaping about. Simple Man was next and the green pyramid lighting set the mood for one of my all time favorite Lynyrd Skynyrd song. On the video screens were old time band footage and home movies that were on one hand sad to watch and on the other were interesting to see.
Next came a medley of Skynyrd classics, which was followed by "Tuesdays Gone" with Boxcar on harmonica. With the crowd swaying to the rhythm. Johnny sung with pride as "Red, White and Blue" brought things into perspective with the video screens showing blue collar working people, nature and Americana video clips. Skynyrd staples "Gimme Three Steps" and "Call Me The Breeze" came next.
The room then went dark as Hughie Thomasson took center stage and under a single spotlight played a guitar solo/instrumental as the band then joined him on "Sweet Home Alabama" which brought the show to a close. The encore was none other then "Freebird". I must say Lynyrd Skynyrd sounded great, they looked healthy, happy and the crowd let them know they are the quintessential southern-rock band.
As the show was about to end I started to realize I was lucky to be seeing the greatest southern rock band of all time in such a small venue like the Joe Mazzola Showroom for the second time. The first time was back in 1997 in the Joe Mazzola Showroom. While the final notes ended Freebird, I started to walk out and thought I better make a phone call before I go. I called the room of the woman I had met earlier from Vector and simply left a voice message stating " ____, it was nice to finally meet you, thank you for the meet-n-greet, a great show and I'll be emailing you the story. I then walked out, got into my truck and in a driving rain storm I drove off the mountain with "Simple Man" playing on the radio.
© 2005 Jim Crowley Photography