(Live Review) BACHMAN TURNER OVERDRIVE (BTO) - Waukegan, 10/20/23
The Beard & Little Johnny
Good day followers, fans, and fanatic Little Johnny worshippers. This evening your mighty reviewing duo covers stop #61 and band #273 on our yearlong The Reviews Never Stop Tour. Tonight, we are attending one of those classic rock acts that inspire interest from the Beard, yawning from Little Johnny, and mild eye rolls, (but gracious tolerance), from our bosses at The Mighty Decibel. (Ed: The things we allow to keep you and the Little One motivated!)
BTO are Canadian and American stars of the 1970’s, producing seven top forty albums, and eleven top forty singles in their 50-year extensive career. Although after the deaths of Robbie and Tim Bachman this year, only Randy Bachman remains from the traditional famous lineup, this still figures to be yet another checkoff on the Beard's endless bucket list of classic bands he’s never seen live.This is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame act and definitely worth the Beard's time and effort to come out and see them here at the Genesee Theater in Waukegan Illinois.
While I was excited, when letting him know what was in store for this evening, Little Johnny said, “Really? More geezers with guitars huh?” The Beard knows his partner though and I immediately mentioned there would be food and beer.
So, pre-show The Beard and Little Johnny paid a visit to local Waukegan brewery Nightshade and Dark Brewing Company (inspired by the novel Something Wicked this Way Comes). A perfect place to stop on a mid-October evening and full of diverse beer selections for both of us. Between us, we split some brisket nachos and 11-local brews several of which were quite tasty. We then went down the block to the Genesee Theater and took our upper balcony seats ready to re-live the glory hits of the 1970’s, (when the Beard was but a teenager and Little Johnny only an unrealized lust yet to be considered and/or consummated.)
Right at 8:00PM on the dot, the lights dimmed and the five members making up this current incarnation of BTO hit the stage with “Roll on Down the Highway.” A classic American 70’s anthem, (ironically from a Canadian band). The band members on tour are Randy Bachman, his son Tal Bachman (Guitar & Piano), Mick Dalla-Vee, (filling the Turner role of Bass/Vocals), Marc Lafrance (Drums), and Brett Knudsen (guitar). These are mostly members of Bachman’s solo band, so harmonization is tight. After “Rock is My Life (and Shaking All Over)", it was time for some Guess Who classics.
The Beard said, “Oh cool, Guess Who” Johnny said, “Guess what?” “No Little dude Guess Who.” “Beard, I don’t know any of those guys down there. How am I supposed to guess who?” At this point I realized I had just entered an Abbott & Costello routine, so I gave up and went back to taking my notes.
“These Eyes” was honestly not that impressive a rendition. In the 90’s, a much younger Beard was working for a lighting company, and we lit a Guess Who show where that song was significantly better. I guess sometimes age does erode the sound. (Although no Burton Cummings probably had something to do with it as well.)
Admittedly, “No Time Left For You” sounded much better. Solid guitar work from Randy, Tal, and Knudsen. Drumming was also good and the whole song was very reminiscent of the old version I remember including good harmonies. The voices have aged, but harmonization they still have. “Stayed Awake All Night” was one I was less familiar with, but I enjoyed it as it defined the 70’s guitar driven rock song. That one slid right into “American Woman” which was okay, but,once more, age had eroded that classic from impressive to not bad.
The next four songs were old BTO classics I was not familiar with, but all were that rollicking trip into 70’s guitar jams and, since that was what I expected, each was enjoyable. Tal Bachman then introduced “She’s so High” which I did not even know he wrote, but was, of course, instantly familiar with when it started. A good song, although the highest notes were already difficult for him to hit. Even Johnny chimed in that he knew that one.
Randy Bachman’s story behind the creation of their classic hit “Let it Ride” was fun to hear, and the song itself still held up well. “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” followed and was another delightful story as the song was originally a throwaway track that was never meant to be on the album and then became one of their biggest hits, reaching number one in twenty-two countries. I did think the song was only ok live, but it was a classic BTO number by the guy who wrote it, so respect is accorded.
BTO then did a medley jam of about eight songs. Interesting as the Beard just tried to identify them. I got, “All Right Now", "You Shook Me", "Honky Tonk Woman", "Wild Thing", and "Twist & Shout". Nothing outstanding about any of it, but a fun crowd sing-along which was after all the point of it.
Of course, no BTO show ends without their super hit "Taking Care of Business". Good song, (although I have only bad footage of it on TIKTOK as there were way too many people standing & dancing about in my line of sight.) Tal did an excellent job with the piano portion though and the crowd was popping big for that one.
Overall, a nice old-time concert from a guy who started writing hit songs when the ancient Beard was just starting to write his ABC’s. I am awarding 85/100 for a night of good nostalgia.
As we headed for the exit, I asked my partner what he thought of tonight’s performance. Johnny shrugged and said, “They weren’t bad Beard, but can we get some more metal before the year is over?” “Message received little dude. Hey, how about we check out that distillery connected to the brewery for an after-show cocktail?” “Now You’re Talking Beard!”
This wraps it up for show #61 and band #273. Be sure to check us out each Wednesday and Thursday on The Mighty Decibel, and then take a look at all our videos on TikTok by searching.
Until next time ...