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Concert Reviews:
Chickenfoot Drummer Gives Home Town Show Special Flavor

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Sunday, August 9, 2009

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DETROIT -- There's no place like home for Chad Smith.

And for the Red Hot Chili Pepper's bandmates in the all-star side group Chickenfoot, there's no place like Smith's home, either.

Chickenfoot strutted into town Saturday (Aug. 8) at the Fillmore Detroit and basked in the home town hero's welcome Smith received from the short-of-sellout crowd. Smith certainly stoked it, sticking his body out of a car driving by the line of fans waiting to get into the Fillmore on Saturday evening after taping an interview for an upcoming documentary on Cobo Arena. "Chad some come to MY home town, I'll show you the real thing," frontman Sammy Hagar told the Fillmore faithful.

Throughout the one-hour and 50-minute show Smith threw more sticks into the audience than most bands use for an entire tour. Smith waved and said hi to his 82-year-old mother, who was sitting out by the sound board, dancing, flashing the devil's horn sign and apparently unperturbed by her son's liberal use of the F-word. And Smith mooned the crowd toward the end of the show.

If that doesn't show true love for the home town, what does?

The rowdy and jovial spirit spread to the rest of the band and elevated the entire show as well. Following a hot hour-plus of blues-rock by Davy Knowles & Back Door Slam -- including a long, heady rendition of the late Rory Gallagher's "Walk on Hot Coals" -- Chickenfoot came out ready to taken no prisoners as it tore into "Avenida Revolution" form its Top 5 debut album. Sunglassed singer Hagar was his jovial self -- when he's leading the party it's awfully hard NOT to have a good time -- while guitarist Joe Satriani, also in shades, fired off one virtuostic lick after another and former bassist Michael Anthony even took a solo.

There was no let-up for the rest of the night as Chickenfoot played every track from its Top 5 debut album, including the rootsy iTunes bonus track "Bitten By the Wolf," stretching most of them out with extended, Satriani-showcasing jams. The non-stop smiles showed this is clearly a group that's having fun together, a kind of busman's holiday from their regular musical pursuits but with the kind of chops that make this inevitably a special enterprise. The often under-appreciated Anthony particularly shined in this situation; sandwiched sonically between Satriani and Smith, he played with a furious, space-filling abandon that laid a solid bottom for his flashy bandmates but still gave him a bit of improvisational room as well.

Chickenfoot dipped into Hagar's past for a lusty ride through the Montrose favorite "Bad Motor Scooter," which featured a Hagar-Satriani guitar workout that quoted the Rolling Stones' "Can You Hear Me Knockin'," and Deep Purple's "Highway Star," during which Smith pulled more drum sticks to throw to the crowd from the cleavage of a woman brought on to sit next to him on stage.

With the musicians' other commitments beckoning, it's hard to know when Chickenfoot will trod this way again. But the quartet is clearly serious about its association -- Satriani, Anthony and Smith even had custom-made instruments with the Chickenfoot logo -- and when Hagar sang "we're gonna live forever" mid-show, let's hope he was referring to the band, too.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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