Sixty-two-year-old veteran rocker Eddie Money brought his Jingle Bell Rock tour to Thunder Valley Casino Resort on Thursday. Scheduled to appear was former Foreigner frontman Lou Gramm and former Jefferson Starship lead singer Mickey Thomas.
The day before their performance at Thunder Valley, it was announced that Gramm would not be performing for the remaining tour due to acute laryngitis, so Gramm was not in attendance.
As the concert kicked off with Money and Thomas taking the stage, the audience immediately started chanting, “Lou! Lou! Lou!” Money responded by explaining the situation and said they had added a couple of songs to their setlist to make up for the missing Gramm. This was followed by more than a few polite boos ““ is there really such a thing as a polite boo?
Money exited stage left while Thomas started singing “Jane.” Thomas wore a striped shirt with a loosely worn red Christmas tie, while he banged out “Sara,” “We Built This City,” “Nothings Going to Stop Us Now.” Thomas ended his set with “It’s Christmas Time Pretty Baby,” singing in the style of Elvis Presley.
The 62-year-old Thomas’ vocals really stood out throughout his set, sounding just as good as he did all those years ago, in particular when he sang Annie Lennox’s “Winter Wonderland.”
Backing Thomas was Money’s regular crew consisting of longtime band members Tommy Girvin (lead guitar) and Glenn Symmonds (drummer), with more recent additions Lee Beverly (bass) and Chris Groves (keyboards).
Following Thomas, Money came out singing “Baby Hold On” and “I Wanna Go Back.” As Money sang, he shuffled back and forth across the stage and even pulled out the saxophone to show everyone he can still play.
Rounding out the show, Money and Thomas took the stage together singing “Jingle Bell Rock” and a rocking version of “Jingle Bells.” For their encore they performed John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over).”
While Money’s vocals were not as pristine as Thomas’, he made up for it with his overall stage presence, sense of humor and kindness toward the audience, reaching out to shake hands with a few people in the front row.
Offstage, Money is extremely generous and cordial to all those around him, introducing himself to anyone standing near. His generosity doesn’t stop there.
Money is a strong supporter of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, which helps support families of military personnel lost in service to our nation and for severely wounded service members and veterans.
Money is hoping fans will help bring some holiday cheer to heroic members of the armed forces by going to eddiemoney.com and purchasing his single “One More Soldier Coming Home.” All the proceeds will go to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.
The Jingle Bell Rock tour was originally started by Money. This past summer, Money performed at a benefit in a Los Angeles club where Gramm and Thomas also appeared. After some discussion they decided to work with Money and tour with him in the Jingle Bell Rock tour.
While this was Money’s show and he was the headliner, Gramm’s absence was a big disappointment for many of the fans in the audience. Especially after Foreigner just came through the area a couple of months ago with their new frontman Kelly Hansen leading the charge. Hansen did an awesome job and put on a high energy show ““ check out my review. I for one, was hoping to see the real deal – maybe next year.
Yes, the audience booed after they realized Lou wasn’t going to be there, but these diehard fans enjoyed the show nonetheless. It’s these types of fans that keep the old-school bands going. And it’s these types of bands that keep the old people going ““ and a little help from Geritol.
For those of you who may not be familiar with TSO, they are a progressive rock band that incorporates classical, orchestral, symphonic and progressive elements into hard rock and heavy metal. They are famous for their series of rock operas and storytelling.
This was a high-energy show with a combination of lasers, lights, pyrotechnics and video screens all synchronized to TSO’s music.
Dressed in black, the orchestra made their way on stage while chimes were playing. As they were assembling onstage, there were clips of Martin Luther King Jr. from the famous “I Have a Dream” speech, as well as John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and others, with each round of new faces drawing applause and cheers. Once onstage they started playing “Who I Am,” with video screens and lights blazing in perfect unison.
The talented storyteller Phillip Brandon started weaving a tale of an angel coming down to Earth on Christmas Eve. Brandon’s phenomenal voice, reminiscent of the famous James Earl Jones, drew the crowd into the tale as a hush came over the audience. After the introduction, the orchestra started playing “An Angel Came Down,” complete with lights and lasers.
As the orchestra began “First Snow,” it actually started to snow in the arena. OK, not really snow, but the pretend kind of snow. You know the
one with tiny bubbles raining down? Couple that with all the video screens filled with snow added to the sensation of real snow. It was quite breathtaking, leaving the audience in complete awe as they listened to an extremely talented line-up of musicians.
One of their screens and lighting units that made a Y shape stretching out above the audience was actually a catwalk. As the show progressed the unit started to descend on top of the audience, leaving people wondering if they should get out of the way. As it slowly made its way down, members of the band ran up it. The catwalk started to rise with band members running towards the back portion of the catwalk providing everyone in the “cheap” seats a prime view of the performance. It was quite impressive.
A new comer to TSO, violinist Asha Mevlana was off the charts rocking it with her purple high tech violin. As she ended a solo routine you could hear the crowd gasp in unison as she grabbed her bow and snapped it in half over her knee, ending the song. This was so much more dramatic than smashing a guitar to smithereens, since it was completely unexpected.
As they wrapped up the story, the orchestra treated the audience to a number of different songs including a mix from one of their albums “Christmas Canon Rock,” at which point they brought out founder, composer, and producer Paul O’Neill.
This was my first exposure to TSO and I have to say they left me wanting more, even after a 2 ½ hour performance.
Armed with an arsenal of talented musicians, singers, and special effects, TSO delivers a high energy, phantasmic kaleidoscope of fun. Oh ““ and some really good music too.