Friday, April 24, 2015

Grand Funk Rairoad -- Maryland Live! Casino - Apr 23 2015

Grand Funk Railroad - I have never quite known how to fit this monster band of my youth into the grand scheme of my take on rock history. I recall them as arena behemoths (selling out Shea Stadium faster than the Beatles) with some radio friendly hits and some gnarlier, gritty midwestern styled brutal rockers. Having never seen them in their day, would tonight be a night of seeing some creaky, out of shape old folks hobbling in with canes trying to rock out? No, that was just the crowd. The five piece version of 2015 (which has been together unchanged since 2000) looked great, looked mean and lean and probably could have cleared out the whole sold-out room by themselves if need be. But that was hardly needed as the fans were totally into this set, as well they should have been as Grand Funk Railroad still has a surprisingly high energy set to present tonight.
The band features the original rhythm section with Don Brewer on some lead and backing vocals as well. Vocals and rhythm guitar are handled by Max Carl of 38 Special, who has been around a long time, but still sounds great. Bruce Kulick put in several years at lead guitar for Kiss, which is appropriate as that sound hearkens back to Grand Funk, and he had plenty of thick blues rock riffs and solos to lay out tonight. They have a keyboardist, Tim Cashion, who I believe has an MFA in music and he adds some vocals as well. Everyone but Mel Schacher sings, which adds even more strength to the powerful instrumental base. Mel's 'bong rattling bass', as Homer Simpson describes, is still there and with John Bonham long deceased, Don Brewer has to be the hardest hitting veteran drummer out there. His overall energy can keep this going about a year after he's dead. Amazing. And the band showcased a variety of solos in tried and true or unique ways with the part where four of them were on percussion with Carl's harmonica solo being particularly brilliant.

The set was constructed well with the five songs I could remember off the top of my head all there (well four, but I recognized a fifth quickly enough in my 'oh yeah' moment). To answer my original question, this band fits perfectly well into the strong tradition of Michigan rock music. The original band members hailed from Flint and worked with Terry Knight and Question Mark, but took that to a much heavier place, cooking up sounds that fit well in with Mitch Ryder, early Bob Seger, and even a bit of the MC5. Michigan rock might be one of the best scenes from top to bottom and Grand Funk not only is a big part of that history, but still has the fire and the ability to show you why in 2015.
I don't know if I have this set list correct, but this is what they did earlier this year and if not exact tonight, it's close...  Bottle Rocket - Rock and Roll Soul - Footstompin' Music - Shinin' On - The Loco-motion - Walk Like a Man - Second Chance - Drum solo - Lightning and Thunder - Inside Looking Out - Some Kind of Wonderful - I'm Your Captain - We're an American Band

6 comments:

Peggy said...

Fake Funk!! No funk without Farner!!

David Hintz said...

It's 2015, and I'll be happy to see Mark Farner come to my town and play whatever he wants to, as well. As long as these guys and others from their era can still get together and make music in any way shape or form, then it is ok with me. And with the internet, we know exactly who is who and what is what. Rock on.

Harmonie Park said...

Grand Funk Cover Band...No Mark Farner no Grand Funk!

David Hintz said...

and?

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