Lynyrd Skynyrd at Hammersmith June 2012
Lynyrd Skynyrd - Hammersmith Apollo 3rd June 2012
Despite the fact that the current Lynyrd Skynyrd line up only includes two original members; guitar players, Gary Rossington and Rickey Medlocke, Skynyrd is still a powerful and energetic act today with all the spirit of the old band.
This was a moving concert given how little the band toured following the tragedy that befell the band when its plane crashed in October 1977 killing five people and terminating the group for years to come. At this time Skynyrd was right at the height of its fame with four albums in the bag including the first and eponymous “Lynyrd Skynyrd” from which 5 iconic numbers were aired at the concert: I Aint the One, Simple Man, Gimme Three Steps, Tuesday’s Gone, and the song which everybody loves and knows, Free Bird.
Lynyrd Skynyrd’s music typifies, if not defines the Southern Rock genre; a mix of blues, rock and country fused with a boogie-woogie, hillbilly sound and mean guitar riffs, a blend just perfect for the outdoor festival scene. And as for festivals, they came to fame in 1976 here in the UK performing at Knebworth in a sun-drenched event supported by 50,000 fans.
Numbers like What’s Your Name and Gimme Back My Bullets were belted out with gusto along to a crowd of ageing classic rockers who lapped up every minute of the show. Not surprisingly, however it was Free Bird that was the final encore, arguably their best anthem ever. It was released in 1973 and is characterised by one of the most famous guitar solos of all time. According to one band member, kids around the world are still attempting to copy it.
Its performance at the Apollo was moving and simply an amazing tribute to Ronnie Van Zant and the others who died in the tragedy. Ronnie’s younger brother, Johnny, reluctantly took up the baton as lead vocalist and has been with the band since they reformed.
Johnny gave an excellent performance and looking rather like his brother, made it a historic experience. The legendary Sweet Home Alabama from the second album “Second Helping” was the penultimate number and despite this being the National Anthem of that State, the band is in fact from Jacksonville, Florida.
The founding members named themselves after their strict high school teacher, Leonard Skinner! All original members were inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. Unfortunately, there were only a couple of tour dates in England, but the good news is that there is a new album in the offing. Skynyrd’s Last of A Dying Breed will be launched in August this summer.
Review by Pandora Mather-Lees