Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd & Second Helping: Live From Jacksonville At The Florida Theatre (DVD)

Lynyrd Skynyrd

Eagle Vision, 2015

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


There's a big difference between bands that do oldies tours and bands that play their old hits sprinkled into a set of newer songs. Those older bands, like the current incarnation of the Beach Boys or the Moody Blues, trade on their legacy by playing their old stuff to an increasingly aging crowd, who eats it up. It's a fine way to make a living, I guess, but it pretty much admits that the new idea well has run dry and the guys are simply doing this to make enough money to pay the bills.

I hadn't really thought about Skynyrd much these last few years (decades), simply because of the awful plane crash that claimed most of the band. But they soldiered on, and on, and now in 2015 they are down to one original member who was not on that plane (guitarist Gary Rossington). With a dearth of new material and the need to make some money, the cover band calling itself Lynyrd Skynyrd took to their hometown to play their first two albums in their entirety for this live show.

That's all this show is, no more, no less. Two full albums played in order in their entirety, starting with "I Ain't the One" and ending with "Call Me The Breeze." These two discs help form the backbone of the entire Southern rock genre, not only making Skynyrd household names but establishing a new strain of hard rock that had some basis in blues but far more in country and American traditions. Moreover, the vast majority of Skynyrd's hits and best songs are on these two, with nearly the entire debut album getting regular airplay on your local classic rock station.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

So it makes sense to revisit these discs, because it's a sure way to delight the hometown crowd (and because playing The Last Rebel and Endangered Species probably wouldn't draw much of a crowd anyway), and if that sounds a little cynical, the crowd really eats it up. You know exactly what to expect when the band launches into the opening notes of "Sweet Home Alabama," the stately organ of "Free Bird" or the chunky chords of "Gimme Three Steps," and when Johnny Van Zant says that Skynyrd is to Jacksonville what the Beatles were to Liverpool, the crowd goes nuts.

Here's the thing, though. This show rarely transcends its origins. A group of guys calling themselves Skynyrd who came on board for the 1990s reunion playing the hits of 1973 just feels like a tribute band concert. Van Zant also seems curiously uninterested, saying his lyrics without really ever feeling them, especially during "Call Me The Breeze," where he just sort of stands there, saying the words, and occasionally thrusting his arms up in an attempt to get the crowd louder. It's kind of like one of those Australian Pink Floyd or British Beatles tribute bands; they look like Skynyrd, they kind of sound like Skynyrd, they play the proper notes, but they aren't really more than a good tribute band (no offense to Rossington, who does fine work as always, given that he co-wrote and played on most of these songs originally).

Moreover, because of this tribute aspect, the songs don't receive any new treatments. "Free Bird" is great but re-created almost note-perfect from the original, a shame given the structure of the song's second half. On the other hand, it's still a very good song, as are "Simple Man," "Gimme Three Steps," "Tuesday's Gone," "Workin' for MCA," "Don't Ask Me No Questions" and "Call Me The Breeze." No doubt big fans will appreciate solid album cuts like "Poison Whiskey," "I Need You" and "Things Goin' On" being here as well.

But when it's over, you're left with little more than a shrug. A friend of mine went to the Skynyrd/Bad Company concert in 2014; ostensibly there to see Skynyrd, he left enjoying the Bad Company show a lot more. After watching this DVD, I see why; the band sounds good, hits the right notes, sounds like they should, but there's just a missing spark or justification that elevates this to essential viewing.

Rating: C-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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