TVD Live Shots: Sammy Hagar & The Circle with S.Ø.S at Harrah’s, 4/26

LAUGHLIN, NV | Fifty years into a remarkable career, Sammy Hagar continues to sell-out venues across the country, and Friday night’s show in Laughlin was no exception. It was standing room only at Harrah’s as Redheads from around the world gathered to pay tribute to one of the most gifted showmen in rock and roll history. And as one might expect, Sammy Hagar & The Circle put on a clinic for the 5,000+ in attendance and showed everyone lucky enough to be there that “There’s Only One Way to Rock!”

As a professional music photographer, I am blessed to be able to see a ton of amazing live music in ridiculously cool locations all across the country. Some of the bands I see are huge, others are just getting their careers started and have little if any following. From the thousand-plus shows I have seen live, there is one thing I can tell you with absolute certainty—there are very few bands out there that have what I consider the “IT” factor—that special mojo that keeps them fresh and relevant on the ever-turbulent musical rollercoaster. Sammy Hagar checks off all those boxes and then some. In tandem with the legendary bassist Michael Anthony, guitar virtuoso Vic Johnson, and drummer extraordinaire Jason Bonham (collectively known as The Circle) you have all of the ingredients necessary to fuel one of the most amazing bands on the planet today.

Kicking off Friday’s show in Laughlin was S.Ø.S, the solo project of California-based singer/songwriter and literal son of The Red Rocker himself, Andrew Hagar. Accompanied by Shredmaster Scott on the electric guitar (a true bad-ass, if you ask me), these two kicked off the party in stellar rock and roll fashion with five killer songs that I would consider Gonzo Garage Folk. Their set was original, energetic, and most importantly real in a world where far too often new music is shallow, unimaginative, and boring.

Andrew captivated the near-capacity crowd with tracks like “Always Winning” and “Dirty Feet,” but my favorite of the night was “Triggerman,” a well-written song about the epidemic of senseless shootings in our society today. I felt this one pushed the masses over the edge and highlighted why the younger Hagar will be a force to be reckoned with in the not so distant future. If you have not heard of Andrew Hagar or S.Ø.S, give their latest EP, “From the Other Side,” a spin.

Now on to the main course, Sammy Hagar & The Circle. What more can be said about The Red Rocker that has not already been said? Well, for starters Sammy is still one of the most amazing vocalists in all of rock and roll. Two, he puts his heart and soul into each and every performance as if it were his last show on Earth. Finally, Hagar surrounds himself with amazing talent who push him harder and further than he could if he were his own. All of this was on full-display in the Nevada desert on Friday evening and nobody left that beautiful amphitheater feeling they didn’t get exactly what they paid for—a true Rock and Roll Party.

Over the next hour and a half or so, Sammy Hagar & The Circle electrified Redheads with a killer setlist of 19 amazing songs. Standards like “I Can’t Drive 55” and “Three Lock Box” just killed, while newer tracks like “Trust Fund Baby” and “Devil Came to Philly” from their forthcoming album Space Between showcased the immense talent this band collectively showcases.

There was no shortage of a party in this set and the Santo Mezquila was flowing all night long. The evening wrapped up with solo classic “Eagles Fly,” the Van Halen masterpiece “When It’s Love,” and The Circle’s latest, “Affirmation.” It was a perfect way to end their set and reaffirmed to me (along with everyone else in attendance) that this band is still at the top of their game. Cheers to Sammy, Michael, Vic, and Jason for making this night incredibly special for so many people. It was definitely a “bucket-list” show for me and one I won’t soon forget!

S.Ø.S.

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