Lynyrd Skynyrd: Point/Counterpoint

Categories: Concert Review
By Martin Cizmar and Brian Bardwell

confederate-flag.jpg
Unfortunately we were unexpectedly barred from taking photos at last night's Lynyrd Skynyrd show at Celebrity Theatre.
Sometimes one perspective on a show isn't enough. So, like we did with Beck and Tool, Up on the Sun is bringing you a point/counterpoint style write-up on last night's Lynyrd Skynyrd show. Brian Bardwell, who wrote last week's music feature advancing last night's show at Celebrity Theatre is a huge fan of the Jacksonville-bred band. Music editor Martin Cizmar is largely indifferent toward them. Here's what they thought:

Cizmar: I knew this was going to be a good show when, before I even parked my car, I saw a gentleman being arrested for an alleged assault of the domestic variety. Stereotypically Skynyrdy, yes, but also hilarious and sad.

Bardwell: And the man seemed sincerely aghast when the cops explained that you can't put your hands on your wife just because she's trying to tell them you beat her. These folks are salt-of-the-earth types, and they dont cotton to your "enlightened" practices. If you want to see some guys who've read Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, my dad would love to take you to a Michael Bublé concert.

Cizmar: I'm hard pressed to think of a better Phoenix crowd off the top of my head. Before the show even started we were locked in a figure-eight neck hug by Tyler, the dude behind us. What a warm, friendly and exuberant bunch of people. They stood the whole time, cheering loudly and happily. Great vibe.
Bardwell: Definitely. I think you enjoyed Tyler more than I did, but you couldn't feel him spitting on you when he talked. Overall, the crowd delivered on the energy, as did the band. In last week's interview, guitarist Rickey Medlocke said these guys would give a hell of a show, line-up changes be damned. And they did. The long-timers laid it out there, and the newbies did a solid job faithfully reproducing the original music and looking vaguely Southern.

Cizmar: Do these guys really need three guitars? I submit they do not.

Bardwell: The answer is two-fold: Yes, and you obviously just don't get it. Most of the time there's some overlap in the playing, but during the bridges and solos, there are very distinct guitar patterns coming from each guitar. Especially during "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Free Bird." Pay closer attention.

Cizmar: Of all the rednecky stuff Skynyrd pulls -- like the Confederate flags they're always waving -- I think the "Watergate does not bother me, does your conscience bother you?" in "Sweet Home Alabama" bothers me the most. Maybe they can update it to "George Bush's sanctioning of Lynndie England-style 'terrorist' torture does not bother me, does your conscience bother you?"

Bardwell: I know you refuse to believe it, but that song wasn't entirely serious. The point wasn't, "We're from the South, segregation is awesome, and fuck you guys." At the time, the whole country was a political shitshow, and they didn't want the South singled out and painted with a broad brush all at once. But if the lyrics are too edgy for you, check out the cover version by Alabama, who stripped out the verse and subbed in something about the football teams down there. As a side note, I'm not sure I saw a single Confederate flag up there tonight. The fans had them, but the Stars and Bars that used to be wrapped around Johnny Van Zant's mic stand were replaced with the Stars and Stripes.

Cizmar: Are you serious? The piano had a combo of the American and Confederate flags on it and so I believe the mic stand also had both. Speaking of familiar things not there: where the fuck was "Tuesday's Gone" is this set? My favorite Skynyrd song is like a condensed but equally bittersweet version of "Free Bird," without all the fat.

Bardwell: I'll be honest: I didn't miss it a bit. Skynyrd is all right mellow, but seven minutes is too much for me, especially at a live show where playing it means sacrificing two or three  less-played gems like "Call Me the Breeze" and "I Know a Little."

Cizmar: I will say this about the Skynyrd fans: They smoke the good shit. I'm used to smelling the reek of cheap weed at shows but during "Free Bird," the sole encore offering, our section smelled like Amsterdam.

Bardwell: And God bless 'em. This is the fourth Skynyrd show I've been to, and that smell is as reliable as the song that accompanied it.

Setlist:

Skynyrd Nation
What's Your Name?
That Smell
Gimme Back My Bullets
I Know a Little
Simple Man
Mini-medley: Whiskey Rock-a-Roller, Down South Jukin', The Needle and the Spoon
Still Unbroken
Gimme Three Steps
Call Me The Breeze
Sweet Home Alabama
Free Bird

Critic's Notebook

Last Night: Lynyrd Skynyrd at Celebrity Theatre.

Better Than: George Jones at Celebrity. Both are legendary Southern acts who had their biggest success in the 70s, but Skynyrd seems to be a little further from their twilight than No Show Jones.

Personal Bias: Explained above.

Random Fact: The classiest piece of merch Skynyrd sells has to be the full-size confederate flag with "Lynyrd Skynyrd" printed on it. Badass

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