38 Special was rockin’ into the night from beginning to end on February 11. Selling out The Joint located at The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tulsa, Okla., the boys brought the South to the Midwest. The “waiting” and “anticipating” ended as founding members Don Barnes and Donnie Van Zant, along with their seasoned band, roared into the “Rockin’ ” anthem. “Rough Housin’ ” and “Back Where You Belong” segued into a montage of hits including 1987’s Revenge of the Nerds II theme song “Back to Paradise,” “Somebody Like You,” “Teacher Teacher” and more.
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, Barnes had a question for the men in the audience; were they with their fantasy girl? An amplified “yes” gave him his answer. But, how fair would it be to not ask the girls the same question? He chuckled, and before he could get a response, he initiated the intro into “Fantasy Girl.”
The vivacious Van Zant brought the energy level of the room down briefly as it was time to pay respects. Delivering a short anecdote about his brother, the late Ronnie Van Zant, he paid tribute through his song “Rebel to Rebel.” Video clips accompanied the sentimental song, and the Van Zants were given all the respect they have earned decade after decade - a standing ovation with deafening applause.
The newest member of the band, drummer Gary Moffatt bridged the show with an extensive drum solo. This led to the second movie theme song for the night, “Trooper with an Attitude,” from the 2001 comedy Super Troopers. Moffatt wouldn’t be the only soloist in the bunch. Guitarist Danny Chauncey took center stage and shredded his way through his own solo masterpiece.
Just as the beginning to the set was perfect, “Caught Up In You,” the 1983 Billboard #1 hit was the perfect ending. The crowd rose to their feet, danced, sang, and reminisced beat for beat. The stage went dark, but we knew this wasn’t the end.
A storm moved into the auditorium. Complete with fog, thunder, and with nothing more than blue lights hovering, the band reemerged and plunged into “Chain Lightning.” Then, the all to familiar riff: || : E. . . | E/Eb. . . | D . . . | D/Db . . . E from Don Barnes guitar began, and “Hold On Loosely” had us holding on tight. Their 1981 breakthrough hit is just as beloved today as it was 31 years ago, due in part to the exceptional timing and performance of the song, courtesy of the band. They closed the show with a cover of the Chuck Berry tune “Back in the USA.” After profusely thanking the crowd, they exited the stage for the final time.
38 Special is unparalleled in talent, production, character, and personality. They are scheduled to tour through the summer.
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