June 2, 2001
Las Vegas, Nevada
The all day rock festival that drew over 40,000 sunbaked and windswept classic rock fans was an undeniable success, with sets by Styx, Journey, and Night Ranger, Billy Squier, Bad Company and of course, Molly Hatchet. Hatchet played host to their GRITZ contest winners Larry Simour and Suzanne Arnold, his fiance- in style, and rocked the huge festival crowd with some good ol’ Southern style ass- kicking rock and roll.
Hitting the stage under the noon-day sun at 12:40, Hatchet fought 100+ degree dry heat and unbelievably high winds to pull off yet another top notch show.
The set began with “Whiskey Man,” as singer Phil McCormack strutted around the stage, swinging his mic-stand high into the air, and commanding real respect from the Nevada fans. Andy McKinney thumped the hell out of his bass, Tim Donovan provided some excellent keyboard work, and Russ Maxwell soared on lead and rhythm guitar.
Bobby Ingram played one smoldering lead after another as the band rocked through “Heart of the USA,”“ Gator Country,” and “Fall of the Peacemakers” leading into Sean Shannon’s powerful drum solo. The high winds prevented the drummer from pulling off his stick-spinning and catching skills, (which we had witnessed during their pre-fest set the night before, inside the casino) but the solo was none the less powerful, winding into a rambunctious “Beatin The Odds.” (a perfect song for Vegas).
Next came a jam-up-and-jelly-tight “Dreams” followed by “The Journey” which Phil dedicated to several of us, including the contest winners, Larry and Suzanne as well as myself. Very thoughtful and quite unexpected.
Following the song, McCormack told the crowd about the “Great Molly Hatchet Giveaway,” co-sponsored by GRITZ and Molly Hatchet, and brought me and the winners onto the stage. (I must admit, when Phil put the mic up to my mouth and I barked ”How about it for Molly Hatchet?!” in front of 40,000- and the cheers went up it was quite a rush.)
The band finished up the set with “Flirtin’ With Disaster” and if there had been a roof, they would have brought it down! (The cloth canopy over the stage had long since blown away in the maelstrom!)
A one-hour set that simply smoked- just three days prior to the release of the 12th even Molly Hatchet album, “Kingdom of XII”. In my opinion, Molly Hatchet should have played later in the day- after Night Ranger and Squier at least. But these guys are pros. They’ll give it however you want it. Last time I saw ‘em, they went onstage at 11:30 pm- today, it was 12:40 in the afternoon. The time is unimportant. They guys love to play, and it shows.
- Michael Buffalo Smith
(Photos by MBS)