Riverport Amphitheater
Maryland Heights, MO
September 29, 2001

Burton Cummings - Riverport Amphitheater 9/29/01The Guess Who and Joe Cocker ended this year's season of shows at Riverport Amphitheater. It was the first time that The Guess Who had been in town since 1974, and the crowd was wildly appreciative. From the first notes of "Shakin' All Over" to the acapella ending of "Share the Land," the five Winnipeg musicians--Burton Cummings on lead vocals, piano, flute, guitar & harmonica, Randy Bachman on lead guitar and vocals, Donnie McDougall on lead guitar and vocals, Bill Wallace on bass and vocals, and the only member of the group to be there from the beginning, Garry Peterson on drums and vocals--had the audience in the palm of its hand. Cummings' voice is still strong and clear; and as a band, they were tighter than ever.

Randy Bachman - Riverport Amphitheater 9/29/01While Bachman handled the majority of the lead guitar duties of the evening, "Guns, Guns, Guns" featured the first of many examples of McDougall's prowess on his instrument. After a spirited rendition of "Hand Me Down World," Cummings told the crowd how thrilled and honored they felt to be here, and then took the opportunity to say a few things about the recent terrorist attacks here in the US. The band was in Times Square when the planes hit. "Anyone who checks their history books will find out that this is the country that's been bailing out the rest of the world out for the last 50 years," said Cummings. "America will prevail in spite of all this shit… America will prevail." This was the first of several pointed comments Burton would make throughout the show.

Bill Wallace, Donnie McDougall - Riverport Amphitheater 9/29/01The band's first real smash, "These Eyes," was up next, introduced by Cummings as "a song that Randy & I wrote a few nights ago." After "Clap for the Wolfman," a fan stepped up to the stage and handed Burton a handmade American flag. Cummings, clearly touched by the gesture, described it as "one of the prettiest things anybody ever gave me onstage…" Burton then added, "You know there's some sons of bitches on the other side of the world that are gonna regret the day they ever saw that."

Burton Cummings, Garry Peterson, Bill Wallace - Riverport Amphitheater 9/29/01One of the biggest highlights of the show was the band's stunning version of "Glamour Boy." Bachman's solo at the end of the song was one of his finest of the evening. Longtime fans may have missed the 'Ricky and the Balloons' section from the middle of the song, but Burton's vocals were outstanding.

As they did on their tour last summer, the band did an acoustic set (aka The Coffeehouse) in the middle of the show. There were only four acoustic songs this time instead of seven, but they were much more powerful as Garry stayed on drums instead of coming to the front of the stage on congas. "Looking Out for #1" was simply wonderful, with a few "USA" references added to the lyrics for good measure and first-rate solos from Bachman and McDougall. Donnie added a nice touch to the song, whispering "looking out" on the out chorus.

Randy Bachman, Burton Cummings, Garry Peterson - Riverport Amphitheater 9/29/01After "Undun," Burton came back to the microphone and said, "…Flick of the wrist, blink of an eye, we bid adieu to the coffeehouse and once again we turn into an electric band…" With that serving as the intro, the band launched into a dazzling 14-minute version of "American Woman"--complete with the 'Roast Beef' intro (which included a tease from The Doors' "Roadhouse Blues") and Randy's drumstick guitar solo. Lenny Kravitz may have revived the song's popularity two years ago, but The Guess Who showed the crowd in no uncertain terms how to play it right.

Randy Bachman - Riverport Amphitheater 9/29/01"Albert Flasher" included an extended middle section this time. It looked like it may have been a missed cue on Cummings' part, but it sounded great nonetheless. After the songs ended, Burton told the crowd that Randy was about to step up to the microphone to perform "a modern day classic, written and recorded with 'that other group'… But he came back to this group to hear it played the way it's supposed to be played!" The crowd cheered with approval and the band went into what was easily the most exciting version of "Takin' Care of Business" I've ever heard. Again, the band added a "USA" reference into the lyrics. Once again, the crowd went wild.

Burton Cummings - Riverport Amphitheater 9/29/01When it comes to speaking his mind, Cummings has never been at a loss for words, and his intro to "Bus Rider" was quite possibly the best of the evening. "Long before Destiny's Child, long before Brandy & Moesha, long long before pretty little Britney & Justin Timberlake, long before Dr. Dre & Snoop Doggy Dogg, long before New Dorks on the Block, long before Flock of Nimrods, long before Michael's face was made of plasticene, there was a song about the working class folks who got up every morning and went to work on the bus!" Bachman broke a string on the solo, but Burton more than made up for it his killer chops on the piano.

Burton Cummings, Garry Peterson, Bill Wallace - Riverport Amphitheater 9/29/01Cummings hit the high notes at the end of "No Time" with ease. Bachman wasn't able to play the song on the right guitar (after he broke the string on "Bus Rider"), but it still sounded great. "Share the Land" was introduced as "a song that still seems to make sense, more now than ever…" The harmonies at the end were breathtaking. The Guess Who have been long overlooked as one of the best harmonizing bands of the rock era, and this song showed just how great they can be.

Joe Cocker opened the show with a 70-minute set of hits covering his entire career. At 57, Cocker may seem a caricature of himself at times, but he still puts on an exciting show. His convulsive stage presence has become more of a case where he is actually conducting the band. Overall, the band was more than adequate, although the sound left something to be desired. Guitarist Gene Black was buried in the mix for much of the show, and the background singers seemed to be lacking a decent mix in their monitors. There were several times throughout the set where they were clearly off key--not because of lack of ability, but because they couldn't hear themselves. Still, they put forth an admirable effort and the crowd was very appreciative. All said, it was an incredible night of classic performances by two classic acts.

© 2001 Steve Marshall
All photographs © 2001 Lauren Marshall