In the new age when just about everything gets a data science treatment, a recent analysis determined which bands and songs you are most likely to hear on classic rock radio. In this study, the artists that comprise the Soundtrack of Summer tour — guitarist Don Felder from the Eagles, Styx and Foreigner — came in strong.
Both the Eagles and Foreigner are in the top 15 most played bands, and the song "Renegade" by Styx is the 13th most played song. So when you put these guys together, it is practically empirically proven that you get classic rock heaven.
Felder started off Sunday evening at the Santa Barbara Bowl with a set that drew heavily from his time in the Eagles, a band that he playfully referred to as the "Seagulls" and the "Beagles."
This included sharp versions of the classics "Already Gone," "One of These Nights," "Victim of Love," which Felder co-wrote, "Witchy Woman," which he dedicated to his "favorite golfer, Tiger Woods," "Heartache Tonight" and "Life in the Fast Lane."
The band also did an incredible cover with amazing five-voice harmonies of Steve Young's "Seven Bridges Road," which the Eagles performed live for a short time and which Felder told was sometimes used as a backstage warm-up song.
Felder also played the hard rockers "You Don't Have Me" from his recent album Road to Forever and "Heavy Metal (Takin' a Ride)" from the animated cult film Heavy Metal.
But the highlight of Felder's set was, not surprisingly, "Hotel California," one of the greatest rock songs ever recorded, and one for which Felder wrote the music.
These guys sounded great as they played favorites from the Styx catalog, including "The Grand Illusion," "Too Much Time on My Hands," "Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)," "Lady," "Light Up," which had people holding up their illuminated cell phones, "Crystal Ball," "Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)," for which Felder joined in, and "Come Sail Away."
The latter was sung by keyboardist Lawrence Gowan, who was a bundle of energy as he pranced around the stage in a display of showmanship that stayed just on the right side of goofiness.
Other fun onstage antics included the guitarists playing in a line and throwing dozens of picks into the audience. In fact, so many picks were launched that I had to wonder what the budget for picks was for this tour.
For an encore, Styx played "Rockin' the Paradise" with their stage LED lights suggesting the album cover of Paradise Theater, and the aforementioned "Renegade."
The evening closed with Foreigner, who delivered hit after hit with the likes of "Double Vision," "Head Games," "Cold as Ice," which had singer Kelly Hansen climbing through the crowd, "Waiting for a Girl Like You," "Feels Like the First Time," "Urgent," with a good approximation of the well-known saxophone solo courtesy of Thom Gimbel, and "Juke Box Hero."
Starting with "Urgent," original guitarist (and only original band member) Mick Jones joined in, a welcome treat since his appearances with the band have been limited due to health issues. Special kudos also go to Hansen, whose voice has a definite resemblance to original singer Lou Gramm, and who brought seemingly unlimited rock star energy to the show.
The band also played the lesser-known album cut "Starrider," which Jones described as "a little bit spiritual, a little bit spaced out," and had a cool laser spotlight-from-behind on Jones during his guitar solo.
Foreigner's encore started with "I Want to Know What Love Is," which somewhat surprisingly is Foreigner's only No. 1 song. Here, background vocals were provided by Santa Barbara's Teen Star Choir. They ended with "Hot Blooded," an arena rock classic.
While you can regularly hear many of the songs from Sunday's performances on classic rock radio, it was even better to hear them live in concert, with key original band members showing that they've still got it. The Soundtrack of Summer tour lived up to its name.
Don Felder Setlist
One of These Nights
You Don't Have Me
Victim of Love
Seven Bridges Road
Heavy Metal (Takin' a Ride)
Life in the Fast Lane
The Grand Illusion
Too Much Time on My Hands
Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)
Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)
You Can't Always Get What You Want/Sweet Dreams/Bohemian Rhapsody
Come Sail Away
Rockin' the Paradise
Cold as Ice
Waiting for a Girl Like You
Feels Like the First Time
Juke Box Hero
I Want to Know What Love Is
— Jeff Moehlis is a Noozhawk contributing writer and a professor of mechanical engineering at UC Santa Barbara. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his web site, music-illuminati.com. The opinions expressed are his own.