I was warned. In talking with mild mannered, laid back, Bachman & Turner bassist/vocalist Fred Turner prior to their concert on Saturday, March 31, 2012 at the Good Life Festival at Encanterra in San Tan Valley, Arizona, Turner mentioned that he was a “totally different singer when not on stage.” That was an understatement. When Bachman & Turner took the outdoor stage under a cloudless, 93 degree, Arizona spring afternoon, suddenly Clark Kent turned into Superman as Turner attacked the lyrics of the concert’s opening song “Roll On Down the Highway,” his unmistakable growl daring you to doubt that they had “rented a truck and a semi to tow.” For the next eighty minutes, Randy Bachman and Fred Turner, now, for legal reasons, billed as Bachman & Turner but forever remembered as Bachman-Turner Overdrive or B.T.O., gave the gathering a fifteen song sampling of the old and the new. Although Turner had stated when asked about playing their old music, “we find that people want their memories,” it doesn’t mean that new memories can’t be formed when seeing them perform their new material as well.
When Randy Bachman sang “it’s a hurried up life, but the life I choose,” in the set’s second number, “Rock Is My Life, and This Is My Song,” it was hard to believe he penned those lyrics thirty eight years ago for they could still hold true today. On this day, you could tell that both Bachman and Turner enjoy doing what they do and they “wanna keep on keeping on” for as long as they can.
As the lead vocals of the songs of the afternoon’s set list alternated between the two front men, the contrast between the vocals of a Turner sung song such as “Not Fragile” and a Bachman sung one like “Hey You,” were noticeable. There was an almost angry, come on I dare you to mess with us tone to Turner and a reflective, life is what it is sound to Bachman. Although both were shaking off the rust of a winter break, not having performed live for three months, it didn’t take long for them to be back in their comfort zone.
Fortunately, both Bachman and Turner refuse to just rest on their chart topping laurels of the 1970’s and included three songs, “Moonlight Rider,” “Waiting Game,” and Rollin’ Along off their 2010 release, Bachman & Turner. As Bachman said of the cd “find it online, because there are no more record stores.” I would recommend that you do for the audience appeared to enjoy the new material, perhaps not knowing all the lyrics, but swaying and head bopping to the music just the same.
Lost in the hit making writing ability of Bachman is the fact that he is an excellent guitarist be it playing the jazz influenced riffs in “Lookin’ Out For #1,” or “Blue Collar,” or the crunching of “Stayed Awake All Night,” the deep track off of Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s first album. The latter song included Bachman’s signature guitar solo with the use of a drum stick which brought the audience to their feet. This morphed into Bachman’s previous group, The Guess Who’s, “American Woman” and the party finally started, the tone of Turner’s vocals making the song’s lyrics sound a bit sharper and biting.
By now, the dancing in front of the stage was nonstop whether it was grandmothers or granddaughters and by the time Bachman purposely stuttered the lyrics of “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet,” the sing alongs were strong. Rather than insult the audience and leave the stage only to tease and then come back for the obligatory encore, the band remained onstage for “Let It Ride,” and “Takin’ Care of Business.” There were actually age sixty somethings pogoing to the final number.
Although it is Bachman and Turner that people come to see, guitarists Mick Dalla-Vee and Brent Howard and drummer Marc LaFrance make a nice backup band. It would also be remiss to not mention that besides singing, Turner can still play a mean six string bass.
For being the first stop after a long layoff, it was a solid effort. Perhaps because, even though this was Arizona, there were many fellow Canadians in the audience, Bachman and Turner gave a little more. Once again, Bachman and Turner proved that rock is their life and on this day, when they played their music, hands were in the air.
Set List: Roll on Down the Highway | Rock is My Life, and This is My Song | Not Fragile | Hey You | Moonlight Rider | Lookin’ Out for #1 | Four Wheel Drive | Stayed Awake All Night | American Woman | Waiting Game | Blue Collar | Rollin’ Along | You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet | Let it Ride | Takin’ Care of Business