Live Review: Billy Squier Cements Comeback in Sturgis

Published on August 7th, 2009

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August 4, 2009 – When an artist like Billy Squier goes on tour for the first time in eight years with a catalog full of dynamic rock anthems, you know it’s going to be big. And big it should be, because songs like “Everybody Wants You” are too good not to be played with big production on a big stage to a big crowd. The tour is called “Up All Night ’09″, and for its stop in Sturgis at the Buffalo Chip Amphitheater, a rare tour of a different sort in the form of a reunited Cheech & Chong opened for Squier. The duo garnered plenty of laughs from the biker crowd, but it was Squier who gave a performance that could have only been summed up as a timeless celebration of rock, and a triumphant return of a gifted rock legend to the concert circuit.

As Squier made his way onto the stage, he positioned himself between his drummer and keyboardist, with his back facing the crowd. When he turned around and ripped into “Lonely Is the Night“, it was time to rock – and the crowd knew it. The years have been kind to the singer, who looked full of energy and youth in his white v-neck and jeans, but the even more impressive feat was that his voice presented itself with the very same sharp and powerful tone that made him a star. Couple this with an ace backing band, and the result was one non-stop evening of rock that included at least one song from each and every Billy Squier studio album.

The intertwining of sing-a-long radio hits and obscure songs along the lines of “More Than Words Can Say” was a major part of what made the concert so special. Few artists are willing to reach back into their catalog and rework songs that have never seen live play before, but that’s exactly what Squier and the band have done for this unique tour. Speaking of the band, Mark Clarke played bass for Squier as early as 1980, and is still by his side today. Drummer Nir Z, keyboardist Alan St. Jon, and guitarist Marc Copely round out the line-up and made clear the fact that they have the chops to master all of the elements of a Billy Squier song.

The enormous sheet of LED lights behind the band were used to give a colorful stage effect for most of the set, and spelled “The Stroke” in an effort to get the Sturgis crowd on their feet and lending their voices to the signature classic. “Rock Me Tonite” rounded out the main part of Squier’s set in a sultry fashion, but it was the three song encore that finished off the show with a finely tuned build of excitement. When Melodic Rock Concerts chatted briefly with Squier backstage before the concert, he commented that the fans in Sturgis would hear some songs that they would not expect. When “Calley Oh” and “The Girl’s Alright” were thrown in during the encore, that expectation was fully realized.

The band’s energy when performing the two rare cuts was only topped during the final cut, which was an extended and slightly remixed “Everybody Wants You“. A slow build of the signature riff was gradually accompanied by pounding drums until it all gave way into an all-out explosion of sound. When all was said and done, the song clocked in at an astounding sixteen minutes of pure Squier fan heaven. And so ended an electric evening that gave fans at the Buffalo Chip all the rock they could handle and then some. The generally accepted fact among those who were left standing at the end of the show was simple; Billy Squier still has it.

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Comments

  1. Posted by Resa Green on August 11th, 2009, 12:05 [Reply]

    Keyboardist Alan St. Jon also performed with Squier since the early 80’s. St. Jon’s backing vocals permeates the soul of Squier’s sound creating a truly poetic resonance. The “slightly remixed ‘Everybody Wants You’” feature seems to be a permanent fixture within the tour’s repertoire; it displays the incredible talent among all band members.

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