The crowd in attendance appeared small in the vastness of the 27,000 capacity venue, but it included everyone from old hippies in tie dyes to yuppies in boat shoes and Polos to families with small kids. Some came expecting to hear the Beatles tunes they love, others came out of curiosity, and quite frankly, many came due to the large number of comp tickets floating around as the amphitheater seeks to build a constituency. No matter the reason for coming, everyone in attendance was treated to one of the finest rock and roll jam sessions ever heard in South Carolina.
The show got underway with a rousing start about 7:30 (maybe a bit too early for a Saturday night) as the band kicked off the first set with "Magical Mystery Tour". However, the seating arrangement at the $10 million facility hindered the ability of the crowd to get into the music as they were effectively divided into three distinct groupings -- close to the stage, too far from the stage, and in the hinterlands of the grass. Todd Lungren, all night long the show's court jester and class clown, still managed somehow to ignite the emotions of the band members and the music continued to soar with Ann Wilson's red hot Joplin-like vocals on "Crazy On Me" and "Barracuda" and Todd's own "Hello It's Me" and "Bang The Drum" (and bang them he did!) Godfrey Townsend on guitar and Steve Luongo on drums filled out the searing instrumental work as David Pack of Ambrosia (who should have been on the bill as a headliner) added vocals more than worthy of the big name talent he supported on stage.
Following an intermission, the second set raced out of the gate with a wide open rendition of "Back In The USSR" as the audience was beginning to reform into a single unit. Thanks in part to marginal security efforts initially and later on to the credit of the management as the OK was given to move forward, the now uniting crowd surged toward the stage, and the scene became a rollicking Beatles love fest. Crowd favorites such as "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" and "Hey, You've Got To Hide Your Love Away" had virtually the entire house on their feet and singing at the top of their voices. One of the evening's artistic high points arrived as Todd's guitar work on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" was totally killer. While John Entwistle may have been voted "Bass Player of the Millenium", Todd let it be known he can lick with the best of 'em. A reviewer covering an earlier Boston performance might well have been in Marion County Saturday night when he wrote of the Boston show's close: "A final encore of 'Golden Slumbers' closed the 3 hour show, although it felt both audience and the band would have been happy to sing all night long." And as for the future of the fledgling Carolina Amphitheater, a Chicago reviewer may have hinted of things to come when he commented on the show's effect on the crowd: "It was good for the heart to see thousands of people experiencing pure elation."
The show was conceived by Alan Parsons who has the distinction of engineering the famous Abbey Road album for the Beatles. Front Row Productions spokesman Paul Zokoski noted the tour had the approval of Sir Paul himself due to Alan's participation and stated, "The revitalized interest in the Beatles single album really reminded everybody how important they are -- and how loved they are. It provided a perfect time and opportunity to mount a show like this." But, as Todd informed the crowd at one point, after 26 tour dates across the country the show's curtain pulled Saturday night in a born again cow pasture in Marion County. Judging from the excited buzz of the crowd and the universal grin on happy fans' faces as they slowly accepted it was over and began to file out, the end of this fantastic show's run should certainly bode well for the beginning of the new Carolina Amphitheater. And those fans who missed this show should be hoping rumors of a European leg and a return tour next year prove to be true! Saturday night was a smoking, in-your-face, not-to-be-missed evening of rock and roll music the way it's meant to be played and heard. Let there be no doubt about that.