Chances are when most music fans think of southern rock-n-roll the first band to pop into their mind are Floridian legends Lynyrd Skynyrd. Justifiably inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005 the band has withstood two generations of rock-n-roll changes. Faced with tragedy back in 1977 when their plane crashed in Mississippi killing vocalist Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, backing vocalist Cassie Gaines, among others. Mourning the loss of friends and family, there was a decade long hiatus before founding guitarist Gary Rossington re-launched the band with Johnny Van Zant on vocals. Sustaining a series of line-up changes over the years the current configuration of the band along with Rossington and Van Zant is Rickey Medlocke (guitar), Michael Cartellone (drums), Mark Matejka (guitar), Peter Keys (keyboards), and Johnny Colt (bass). Continuing touring year after year the band made their annual stop at NYCB Theatre at Westbury, NY on Thursday June 12th to bring on an evening of good old rock-n-roll.
Packed full of fathers, sons, mothers, daughters, friends, and lovers, the theater was ready for the show to begin. As Lynyrd Skynyrd took the stage and began with “Workin’ for MCA” and “I Ain’t the One”, the audience rose to their feet cheering. With the configuration in the full round for the evening the rotating stage gave each corner of the venue equal visibility of the band. Dancing and singing along, the room was full of good vibes as Lynyrd Skynyrd played on. Johnny sang strongly and affectionately as he stared into the audience raising his arms in the air enticing everyone to participate. Responding warmly the fans sang and swayed to all their favorite Skynyrd tunes like “What’s Your Name”, “That Smell”, and “Saturday Night Special”.
With so many fond memories being brought to the surface of spectators’ mind, each member in the band performed with passion and soul. Let us not forget the stellar backing vocals provided by Dale Krantz-Rossington and Carol Chase giving each tune that extra something. As the celebration continued Lynyrd Skynyrd covered their entire discography in electrifying fashion including the heartfelt performances of “Simple Man” and “Tuesday’s Gone”
Closing out the hit parade, the band played “Gimme Three Steps” before receiving their biggest ovation as they went into “Sweet Home Alabama”. Absorbing all the love raining down on them as the set concluded Lynyrd Skynyrd waved thank you and exited the stage. With the lights still down and whistling and cheering still at peak levels the band walked back down the aisle onto the stage to perform an encore of “Free Bird”. One of the greatest songs of the last fifty years, the vibe of the performance was right on key and emotionally moving to everyone.
Lynyrd Skynyrd have a way of making each performance special for their fans, so special it feels as if everyone in the room are family. This show is right up there with any of the band’s modern day performances and that is exactly why everyone will be back again next year when they hit town again. Next, in celebration of the 40th anniversary of their debut album Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd (1973), the band embarks on a tour with Bad Company starting July 10th that is not to be missed.