THE GUESS WHO
Twin River Casino Hotel – Event Center
Lincoln, Rhode Island
September 15, 2018
Photos & Review by Dan Wenc
A Saturday night filled with two great bands for a night of classic rock. The Guess Who performed in front of a near capacity crowd at the Twin River Casino/Hotel Event Center in Lincoln, Rhode Island. That night’s performances came on the heels of the release of the band’s latest album release, The Future IS What It Used To Be, which debuted the day prior.
The evening started off with a stellar performance from Starship Featuring Mickey Thomas. The hour long set was filled with all the classic songs which got the crowd going.
The Guess Who is a Canadian based rock band that formed in 1965 during the time of the early emergence of rock and roll, now known as classic rock. Their fame grew with the release of “These Eyes”, from the band’s 1968 album Wheatfield Soul. The song topped out at #6 in the Billboard Top 100 from 1968-1969. In 1969, following the success of “These Eyes”, came the band’s fifth studio album Canned Wheat, which had the timeless classics such as “No Time”, “Undun” and “Laughing”. Canned Wheat received high music chart ratings at that time in the U.S. and Canadian markets, boosting The Guess Who through the radios around the world. In 1970, the American Woman album was released and The Guess Who received two Billboard Hot 100, #1 spots for “American Woman” and “No Sugar Tonight”.
For the past 40 years, the timeless The Guess Who songs still remain; the faces of the band have transitioned, reformed, with an evolving and changing lineup through the years. Not to be worried, this current lineup is a perfect compliment to the years and music catalog of The Guess Who. The performance that night and the crowd response was most positive, as they instantly rose to their feet as The Guess Who took to the stage. The night was led by a most energetic and well rounded vocalist and musician, Derek Sharp. Sharp has been the front man of The Guess Who since 2008, in a time just slightly longer than his predecessor, the talented Burton Cummings.
The energy of The Guess Who lit up the room. The positive vibe and the visual enjoyment that the band played with reflected onto the fans, and appeared to be a mutually good time for everyone. A great part of any concert is when the band is interactive with the crowd and the band can be seen smiling and enjoying themselves on stage.
The night started off with track #1, “When We Were Young” from the new album, a song that combines the sounds of modern rock alternating with the classic 60’s/70’s sound. Next up was “Clap for the Wolfman” from the 1974 album, Road Food, followed by “Undun”. A perfect musical formula right out of the gate.
Original member, Garry Peterson sat behind his drum kit at the back of the stage, tucked away behind the toms and cymbals. There were moments you could catch a glimpse of him as he played, with smiles of pure enjoyment in what he was doing. In between songs he would talk about some of the backstory behind each song and how things came to be. It was a nice addition to the set to hear from Garry about the music with his commentary. While the players have changed over the decades, one constant remains, Garry Peterson behind the drums. From the way genuine way he spoke about the songs, and the way he played you knew that he still had great enthusiasm for this band and its legacy continuing on with the new album.
If you aren’t familiar with the current lineup of The Guess Who, it consists of Derek Sharp on vocals, the high energy front man is perfect fit for a 21st century version of The Guess Who. Throughout the night Sharp, sang, played guitar and keyboards, most of all he entertained. He kept the crowd engaged in every moment of the show. Sharp interacted with fans, gave smiles and brought smiles. Many fans were seen scrambling to catch the many guitar picks and t-shirts that were tossed out into the crowd. Sharp even brought a fan close to the stage at the end of “Undun”, to help finish off the song. Sharp does great justice in carrying on The Guess Who legacy with his vocal styling and animated stage presence. After “Undun” was “No Sugar Tonight”.
Then the night slowed down, but only for a brief moment, when Sharp took a seat at the keyboard and told the crowd to sit, for a slow song “Haunted” from new album.
Included in the night’s set list were several selections from the new album, one of which was “Playin’ on the Radio”. In keeping in stride with crowd engagement, Sharp provided the crowd with pre-song instructions, encouraging everyone to sing along with the chorus of “Playin’ on the Radio”. The song was well received and sounded great.
A perfect compliment to the talents the lineup is multi-platinum recording artist, Rudy Sarzo on bass. Sarzo also brings high energy and enthusiasm to the stage with his playing style and bass slinging. A seasoned bassist, Sarzo has played with many other legendary acts such as Quiet Riot, Ozzy Osbourne, Whitesnake and DIO, to mention a few.
Also in the lineup is Leonard Shaw, who has been the man behind the keys has been with the band since 1990. Shaw showed his musical versatility with the flute and saxophone.
On guitar was Will Evankovich, he magnified the guitar parts of the classic The Guess Who songs with his shredding transforming the classic style rock into modern guitar riffs all while maintaining the traditional value of each song. Evankovich has a successful resume behind his guitar career with a number of artists over the years. In addition to his work with The Guess Who, Evankovich was a co-writer/producer on the recently highly successful, 2017 STYX album “The Mission”
A combination of all these modern players are key component to the next phase of The Guess Who legacy. This combination of this musicianship takes the music catalog to a whole new level of energy in keeping the music alive. The classic sounds of The Guess Who are slightly transformed into a hard rock version, all while maintaining the classic quality and sound that fans love.
The set continued on with more select hits from the American album, with it “Hand Me Down World”, “Share The Land” and of course “American Woman”.
The night went by way too fast. It was then time for a brief pause, followed up with a three song encore performance, starting off with “In America” from the new album. The new track contains the ingredients of a catchy hit song; a combination of classic rock meets southern rock, intertwined with a catchy lyrics, slide guitar, harmonica and piano.
The show ended off with “These Eyes” and “No Time”. By that time the energy in the room was at maximum levels. Musical energy filled the room, people were leaving their seats, but not for the door, they were headed to the front of the stage to bask in the final moments of musical enjoyment. Derek Sharp continued tossing guitar picks into the crowd, along with t-shirts… which made for some very happy fans that night. Everyone walked away from this show much more happier than they came in.
Do not be discouraged by any of the usual preconceived notions about The Guess Who that some might have… like that is not the original lineup of 40 years ago, or that they are an “old band”. Those ideas can be left at the door. This is a band that a fan new or old, can enjoy. Once you see The Guess Who perform live, you will be quickly captured by the timeless music and the performance behind it. I expected to see a good show, but their performance far exceeded my expectations into an amazing show. I can’t wait to see them again. I picked up the new album the next day. Music fans are in for a treat with their performance and the new album.
The Guess Who are just a small number of great legacy bands of classic rock that are still out there on the road and making new albums; so get out and support the live music. The faces in the band have changed, but don’t let that discourage you from going out and catching a show, it is a good time The quality level of music they play has not changed, you will not be disappointed. The tried and true fans came out that night, new ones were made. Check out The Guess Who in a city near you, they are out on the road with a number of tour dates in support of the new album in 2018 and beyond.
PHOTO GALLERY: The Guess Who – Lincoln, RI
For More Information on The Guess Who, News, Tour Dates and New Album visit: http://www.theguesswho.com