Sammy Hagar and the Circle

On today’s show we finish up the summer leg of the rock n roller coaster tour across America with a Sammy Hagar show in Ridgeview, Washington. We had this concert penciled in on our calendars since it was first announced in the spring and we were looking forward to a night of great music.

Hello and welcome to the Rock n Coasters Podcast. I’m Michele Forto for First Paw Media. Today we are talking about the Sammy Hagar and The Circle concert in Ridgeview, Washington.

What a great evening to end the summer with a show. Even though Robert and I saw one of his favorite bands of all time, Alice in Chains, just the night before at this same venue, we were super excited for this show, and we had been calling it the concert of the year on the summer’s rock n roller coaster tour across America. You see we had been on the road for the better part of three weeks driving down to Dallas from Seattle in our newly acquired Toyota Rav 4. We had put on some serious miles, stopping in Moab, Denver, Salt Lake, Boise and everywhere in between. It was fitting to end this leg of the tour with such a great show.

We arrived early after having lunch at the ilani casino close by and wanted to make sure we soaked it all in at the venue. This is such a fun place to see a concert. There are lawn seats and covered seating closer to the stage. We had awesome, stage center seats about 15 rows back. This place reminded me a lot of the Fiddler’s Green (I will always call it that) in Denver and the amphitheater in Syracuse where we saw Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson a few years ago. I whole different crowd, I know.

Speaking of different crowds, I found it interesting that there was a heck of a lot more police presence at this show compared to the night before and they did not allow the lawn crowd to bring in chairs like they did for the AIC show. I wonder why?

I have been a big fan of Sammy Hagar my whole life. I listened to him in Montrose when I was little and went to high school at the height of Van Hagar. I knew I would know the words to every song, and I would sing my heart out for his entire set.

While I never called myself a true George Thorogood fan, I knew the songs and this guy is a freaking legend.

Portland’s favorite rock station, KGON hosted this gig. The original lineup was supposed to have The Glorious Sons along with Nita Strauss. I’m assuming Nita backed out because of her new position as guitarist for Demi Lovato, and I’m not sure what happened with The Glorious Sons. No matter. The day was epic as it was. It was supposed to be a mini festival but nonetheless we were so glad we were here.

Opening this show was Queensryche. The current lineup is: Todd La Torre (vocals), Eddie Jackson (bass), Michael Wilton (guitar), Mike Stone (guitar) and Casey Grillo (drums). This seemed like an odd pairing for a show honestly, as Sammy Hagar and George Thorogood seem more of a “party” band compared to the more serious, brooding, music of Queensryche

Queensryche played roughly an hour. The band was tight. They played the songs flawlessly. The only off-putting thing for myself personally were the layers of delay and reverb on La Torre’s vocals. While he’s a powerful singer, it’s odd to see him hit a note, then walk away from the mic with the vocals still resonating for several seconds after. It was honestly distracting from the songs. It felt almost like lip synching, despite it being his original note coming through. Realizing that very few live bands play without a lot of effect loops, etc., I think if it’s on vocals, the singer should stay at the mic until the note is finished with the delay/reverb.

George Thorogood was up next. One of the most celebrated American blues rock artists of all time, he is a trademark himself. At 71-years-old, the man still has his charisma. His band, bassist Billy Blough and drummer Jeff Simon have all played together since 1976. Saxophonist Buddy Leach helped bring the spirit of the veteran rocker’s many celebrated (celebrating) songs. Opening with “Rock Party,” the band continued into several drinking-themed songs including, “I Drink Alone,” “House Rent Blues/One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer.”

One big grin revealed a silver covered canine tooth from Thorogood, which I couldn’t help but wonder if it was because he was truly “Bad to the Bone”, or just a bad tooth. I mean if Madonna can wear a grill, why can’t George have a silver tooth? Either way, it was a joy seeing him still performing.

Sammy Hagar and the Circle were up next. The Circle includes his longtime friend from Van Halen and Chickenfoot, bassist Michael Anthony, Jason Bonham (son of legendary John Bonham-Led Zepplin) on drums and guitarist Vic Johnson. If you close your eyes, you will swear that Vic was channeling Eddie Van Halen for all of his licks.

Let me just start off by saying it is hard to believe that Sammy Hagar is nearly 75-years old. Jaw dropping honestly. He is fit. He sings well. He certainly doesn’t look like any 75-year-old I’ve ever known.

Between his band(s) and being a businessman, he has created quite a trademark for himself. Business partner, friend and restaurateur, Guy Fieri and he have a line of Santo Tequilas and Mezquila and he is renowned for his line of Cabo Wabo Tequila and Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum. Tequila is somewhat synonymous and associated with him now. Hagar claims, “Water will kill a drink,” so perhaps his secret to youth is getting a little pickled now and then and certainly knowing how to sell it. Fun Fact: Robert searched high and low to grab all three bottles of Santo’s and finally found two of the three on a later trip at a liquor store in a really shady part of Seattle. He is still searching for the elusive black bottle. If you know anything about acquiring libations up here in Alaska, you understand our pain.

The Red Rocker and his cohorts belted out songs from his expansive career, which included songs from Montrose, Van (Hagar) Halen, and even a nod to drummer Jason Bonham’s dad, “Rock N’ Roll” from Zepplin. The Red Heads (Loyal Sammy Hagar fans nickname) were in their element clearly and perhaps a little more than tipsy to get to spend an evening with this band entertaining. “I Can’t Drive 55 seems apropos for Sammy Hagar and the Circle, as they give such a powerhouse performance. Sammy refuses to walk off stage for an encore, I have always thought this was the adult version of hide and seek, so he stays until the last minute.

You can truly see these guys love being a band. It is no secret that Mikey and Sammy are best friends as they are always sharing their exploits on their Instagram feeds. We have seen a lot of bands over the years who seem like they are into it but appear too professional and “stuffy” on stage, but The Circle seem to take the idea of a bunch of guys up on stage jamming with several thousand friends, to a whole new level.

It was also so refreshing to see how Sammy interacted with the fans through the whole show. He signed autographs, wore funny hats passed to him from the crowd, shared swings of his aforementioned Santo’s and even wore a Seattle Kraken jersey, appropriately labeled with “I Can’t Drive” and the big number “55” on the back during “Right Now.”

All fun, great songs, and a few hours to forget the world. What a perfect way to spend an evening.

Have you ever seen Sammy and The Circle? What did you think? What are your favorite songs? Let us know in the comments or on our socials just search Rock n Coasters podcast.

Oh, and one last thing, did you know the single best thing you can do for our show is to tell your family and friends how to listen. Who knows, they might just become a rabid listener just like you.


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