Friday Night: Blue Oyster Cult & Marshall Tucker Band At Arena Theatre
An odd co-headlining bill on the surface had the Marshall Tucker boys opening Friday's show. Though only singer Doug Gray remains from the classic lineup, the rest of the group are all crack players, in particular guitarist Rick Willis and keys/flute/sax man Marcus Henderson.
In all honesty, Gray had vocal difficulties for portions of the set, his singing at times seemingly muted and then - when reaching for a higher note - doing so with a whispered rasp. However, his laid-back humor in addressing the audience generated a lot of goodwill.
Aftermath has always appreciated that MTB was one of the jammiest of the Southern rock bands, letting songs unfold leisurely with many musical sidetrips. However, with an abbreviated set like this, the long instrumental interludes on "Blue Ridge Mountain Sky" and "24 Hours at a Time" overstayed their welcome as the audience got a bit restless.
But kudos to Gray for including the blues/jazzy deep track "Bob Away My Blues," an unexpected choice whose risk paid off and featured his best singing. The set closed with the anthemic "Can't You See," perhaps the highlight, and sung alternately by Gray, the audience, and a powerfully-lunged Willis.
For a moment, the band and their audience were one, and the feeling rippled through the crowd.