umpteenth self-tribute to the legendary band converted into the symbol of southern
rock boasts the virtue of bringing together a goodly number of leading
figures of genuinely American music
to perform the greatest hits of Lynyrd
Skynyrd. Some of the guests are as unexpected as Cheap Trick and an older gentleman with a shaved head who turns out
to be none other than Peter Frampton.
A reunion of young and old shining lights of southern music and its surrounding areas and this one without the excuse of an anniversary, except that 37 years have gone by since the fateful plane accident that broke Lynyrd Skynyrd into a thousand pieces when they had almost scaled the highest peak of popular success. When their two and three part guitar interplay was as good as gets it in rock on Free Bird, their enduring anthem. The goal this time was to save a place very special to the band from demolition.
The concert on 12 November last year at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, the capital of Georgia, allowed them to bring back the best of the real Lynyrd classics performed by different musicians from the usual suspects. And in the process, they raised funds to prevent the disappearance of the stage where Skynyrd recorded their famous live album in 1976. This DVD-double CD obviously takes its name from that album.
The inheritors of the legacy, led by Gary Rossington, Johnny Van Zant –Ronnie's brother- and Rickey Medlocke, have honorably kept the flame burning, remembering their fallen comrades time and time again. In spite of the obstacles in their path, they even continued releasing new studio albums, but things were never the same again.
The most interesting part of their new album, for example, is listening to Robert Randolph, a virtual unknown on this side of the Atlantic, performing You Got the Right seated before the pedals of his steel guitar, and the same goes for Randy Houser, Jason Isbell and Aaron Lewis, to name a few. A special mention, of course, goes out to the guitar work of Warren Haynes and his Gov’t Mule.
Among the best recognized names on these shores, Cheap Trick tackles Gimme Back My Bullets and none other than John Hiatt does the honors on The Ballad of Curtis Loew. For curiosity value, the radically different appearance of the Peter Frampton we knew from his glory days holds a special fascination. On the other hand, his guitar playing hasn't aged at all, as he shows on Call Me the Breeze. Just like another legend who fortunately is still alive and kicking: Gregg Allman, responsible for delivering another Made in Skynyrd landmark, Tuesday’s Gone, the song leading into the final section of the concert.
And with it came the most moving moment of the show when Johnny sang Travelin’ Man as a duet with his brother Ronnie, brought back to life on a giant video screen, courtesy of one of those tapes that are always left lying around in the bottom of some box. The piano to Free Bird slowly but surely will put an end to the sadness with its thrilling, ecstatic finale as Lynyrd Skynyrd alone makes the audience tremble in excitement just as they have been doing for nearly half a century. The inevitable, eagerly awaited encore is one of the classic rock anthems par excellence, Sweet Home Alabama, ending with Skynyrd surrounded by all their guests in a celebration that only lacked a barbecue to be perfect.