You needed more than a ticket to get into the Capital Centre yesterday; you needed a toy. And by the end of the evening there were 18,500 of them piled high in a corner as WPGC and the Marine Corps Reserve brought together four bands for a six-hour concert to benefit their annual Toys-for-tots drive.
Dennis Locorrriere of Doctor Hook told the audience as his band took the stage, "Now that everybody has fulfilled a sort of moral obligation, the rest is icing. Everybody just boogie and have fun."
Dr. Hook began with "Walk Right In" and by the time their set was finished, the crowd was ready to let their "hair hang down, as instructed by the lyrics. At a time when the rock scene is filled with art-conscious posing, they provided high energy, ragged good-timing.
In contrast, Firefall seemed reserved. Their sound was lopsided -- too heavy on the drums, bass and rhythm guitar, too light on the vocals, keyboards and harmonica. The imbalance was due in part to a case of laryngitis which incapacitated the lead singer. As a result-they didn't even do the song that most of the audience had come to hear, "Strange Way."
Energy returned with Pablo Cruse, who delivered an electric set of hot Latin-jazz rhythms. Their playing was super-tight and sparks were all but coming off the stage. It was one of those rare moments when the band plays better than you'd hoped for.
Coming last in the line-up, Atlanta Rhythm Section was the only band that had the luxury of some production features: a flashing ARS sign which looked like a large tiepin suspended from the lights and an imposing musical introduction: the theme from "Gone With the Wind." Yet ARS seemed heavy-handed and stilted by comparison to Pablo Cruse.Their throbbing boogie beats were no match for P.C.'s fire and spice.