Legendary Southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd are currently playing shows on their ‘Last of the Street Survivors-Farewell Tour’ with dates booked into late October of 2018. The band has toured heavily since their 1987 reformation, but with sole surviving founding member Gary Rossington enduring his own health problems in recent times maybe it really is the end of the road for Skynyrd but who’d bet against the band coming around again? Skynyrd released their last studio album ‘Last of a Dyin’ Breed’ back in 2012 and any further studio records look increasingly unlikely but the void has been filled to some degree by a slew of interesting live archival releases to keep hard-core fans busy which brings us to ‘Live In Atlantic City’ released on the German earMUSIC label.
The latest live release is new in name only as ‘Live In Atlantic City’ was recorded in 2007 and features the late Billy Powell and Ean Evans on piano and bass respectively. It was recorded for the Decades Rock Live TV series on VH1 Classic that also included shows by Heart, Elvis Costello, Cyndi Lauper, Bonnie Raitt etc. usually with special guests sharing the stage. This review is of the video part of the release via stream/download and sounds good in the stereo available to me. The show was originally recorded and transmitted in 5.1 so I don’t envisage any problems on that score for the DVD/Blu-ray. Live shows recorded for TV always seem to lack bottom end so Michael Cartellone’s drums sound a little light on occasion, as they get swept up in the legions of guitars, but not annoyingly so.
Opening with a stormin’ ‘Working For MCA’ Skynyrd’s triple guitar threat never gets old and the interplay between Rossington, Rickey Medlocke and, at the time, new boy Mike Matejka is always a pleasure to behold. The band looks in good form with Johnny Van Zant obviously having a great time. Billy Powell leads the band through the patriotic ‘Red White & Blue’ with Rossington adding some tasty slide guitar before a rousing ‘Gimme Three Steps’ picks up the pace with the addition of a horn section. Things take an interesting turn as Bo Bice and guitarist Kris Bell join Skynyrd for two songs. Bice is probably best known for finishing runner-up to Carrie Underwood on American Idol and at the time of this show his star was on the rise. More recently he’s been fronting 60’s act Blood Sweat and Tears at a state fair/casino near you. Bice and Skynyrd do Bice’s best known song ‘The Real Thing’ but it doesn’t really work in this context while ‘Gimme Back My Bullets’ fairs better as Bice holds his own, but you can’t help but get the feeling Bo Bice is more record company product placement than anything else. On the other hand guitarist Kris Bell might be a new name to some but he’s well worthing checking out.
Hank Williams Jr. is up next and he’s played with Skynyrd in the past so the chemistry is instant with ‘Down South Jukin’ and an incendiary ‘Born To Boogie’ standouts of this set. ‘Boogie’ is just terrific, the band is rockin’ and Williams is a force of nature. Next up are 3 Doors Down which might raise a few more eyebrows but Brad Arnold and the guys hail from Mississippi and their brand of alternative rock always had more than a tinge of Southern rock to it. With 3DD on stage we’ve no less than five, count ‘em, guitarists which is pretty ridiculous to be honest but it’s kinda great to see Medlocke whistle in a solo ala Danny Joe Brown during a rousing ‘That Smell’ before 3DD‘s biggest hit ‘Kryptonite’ goes down really well with Brad Arnold and Johnny Van Zant having a fine time as they exchange vocal lines. In an odd turn of events Skynyrd take a short break and 3DD power through ‘Saturday Night Special’ which reminds me just how good a live band 3DD are. The stereo separation on the guitars here is fantastic so kudos to the mixing engineer. Skynyrd invite all their guests back to the stage for ‘Call Me The Breeze’ and ‘Sweet Home Alabama before they take things back into their own hands for the obligatory ‘Freebird’ to conclude a 70 min set.
‘Live In Atlantic City’ is a bit of an oddity in some ways considering the artists involved but the performances are cool and it’s great to see this sorta thing getting an official release. I doubt long-time Skynyrd fans will be able to resist the CD/Blu-ray pack especially in the fake leather limited edition version.
“Live In Atlantic City” is going to be released as CD+Blu-ray Digipak (limited first print run in fake leather), 2LP Gatefold+download, DVD, Blu-ray and Digital on September 21st, 2018 on earMUSIC.