Like most people, I really dislike Mondays. They are the quintessential virus of the work week. Because there’s seldom anything that’s memorable to come from a Monday other than when it’s gone, the question might be asked, “What would it take to actually have a good time on a Monday night?” Enter Sammy Hagar & The Circle.
Sammy Hagar knows that “There’s Only One Way to Rock,” and that’s hard. Hagar’s influence on rock music is undeniable, his signature voice unmistakable, and his guitar work formidable.
It’s been over forty years since the prolific frontman’s success first came with Montrose. From there, Hagar went on to collect multiple platinum and gold studio albums as the Montrose frontman, a successful soloist, and as a dynamic lead vocalist for Van Halen.
A Hagar and Company performance is as much a reunion as it is a concert; reuniting the rock anthems from Hagar’s extensive catalogue of material from his early days with Montrose to the glory years of Van Halen [or Van Hagar depending upon where you stand].
Hagar is like the favorite uncle you look forward to seeing at family reunions and get togethers every year because you know that the time spent was well worth it as Sammy is there to have fun and make sure you do too.
So it was in Orlando, Florida that Sammy Hagar & The Circle came to the Hard Rock Live in support of their new album, ‘At Your Service’ to present their own brand of “Rock Candy” to a packed house of energized fans who were anxiously awaiting the Red Rocker to take the stage.
Cheers came from the crowd as a short video montage of Hagar’s past performances played on the big screen. When Sammy and Company took the stage, the crowd erupted as the band began to play “There’s Only One Way to Rock” from Hagar’s ‘Standing Hampton’ album. The tone for the evening had been set.
Next followed Montrose’s classic “Rock Candy” before The Circle switched gears into Led Zeppelin’s “Good Times Bad Times.” The Circle would later pay tribute to the fans with Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.”
Next would come Van Halen’s “Poundcake” from 1991’s ‘For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge’ before moving into Hagar’s signature track, “I Can’t Drive 55” from his eighth studio album ‘VOA,’ then back to Van Halen’s “Right Now” from ‘For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge’ again. “Why Can’t This Be Love?” and “Dreams” from Van Halen’s ‘5150’ album soon followed to the delight of the audience. All memory of a Monday had faded away as the energized crowd rocked as if it were a Saturday night.
The Circle is comprised of one of music’s best supporting casts. Here you have Michael Anthony, former bassist for Van Halen whom Sammy has known and played alongside for 30 years, guitarist Vic Johnson who’s been playing with Hagar since the mid 90’s, and veteran drummer Jason Bonham of rock prominence.
The chemistry of the band was apparent as they interacted with the crowd and each other. Together they would serve up some of the best selections of Hagar’s stellar career, and at one point Sammy Hagar announced to the crowd, “We’re Sammy Hagar & The Circle, at your service.” Mission accomplished.