Beautiful evening for a concert and Grand Funk Railroad proved tonight that the “American Band” can still rock. The band whose songs were a main staple on the radio and who racked up hits during the ’70s filled up the Grandstand Stage at San Diego’s own Del Mar Fair racetrack.
Grand Funk is one of my favorite classic rock bands, so I was interested in seeing them perform live and see if they still had it. The rockers have remained a personal favorite for me, along with Foghat, Led Zeppelin, Hendrix and Aerosmith.
The band has always been well loved by audiences despite a relative lack of critical acclaim. They’ve always held a special place in my heart and will be well remembered as one of the all-time Crowd pleasing Arena Rock Bands.
Since 2000, Grand Funk has performed with the lineup of original member’s drummer/vocalist Don Brewer (writer and singer of the band’s biggest hit, “We’re An American Band”) and bassist Mel Schacher. They are joined by three “all-star” members: singer Max Carl (.38 Special), lead guitarist Bruce Kulick, formerly of KISS, and keyboardist Tim Cashion, who has played with Bob Seger and Robert Palmer.
The group opened with “Bottle Rocket,” a song that I was not familiar with and have never heard before. But it sounded like vintage Grand Funk – loud, driving, pure American rock ‘n’ roll fun. A string of classic Grand Funk hits followed, including great renditions of ”Rock & Roll Soul” and “Foot Stompin’ Music” that got the crowd singing and dancing. I was dancing inside along with most of the crowd during “The Loco-Motion.” Brewer created an invigorating moment as he took over the stage for a lengthy powerhouse drum solo. After his thunderous onslaught, all five members took up percussion instruments to perform my personal favorite of the night, “The Percussion Circle.” It was worth the price of admission for this one moment. Coolest thing I’ve heard and seen in a long while. Thank you Grand Funk for the treat.
Then the first note of “The Star-Spangled Banner”, featuring the solid electric guitar work of Bruce Kulick. It was a solemn moment in time that brought the crowd together as one. The band closed the concert, which seemed to pass all too quickly, with the lovely “Closer to Home/I’m Your Captain.” But of course, the show wasn’t quite over. The band wasn’t off the stage for a full minute when they returned – with Brewer in a patriotically striped top hat – to rock their signature hit, “We’re an American Band.”
I was very pleased at how well Grand Funk’s music is still holding up in today’s world. Brewer has maintained his great voice and showed incredible percussion prowess, and Schacher showed his stuff on a couple of bass solos. Carl possesses a strong polished rock voice and his Harmonica playing added a sense of maturity to the songs while allowing Kulick and Cashion room to explore their own musical avenues. The sound was so good at the Grandstand that I was smiling from ear to ear. It gave you a great feeling inside, just the way you imagine it should. Everyone seemed to really have a great time performing together and shared a beautiful chemistry.
Please do yourself a favor and when you see that Grand Funk Railroad is coming to your town to help you party down take advantage of it and go see them live. And check out the San Diego concerts at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. It’s a very enjoyable experience and sounds amazing.
Grand Funk Railroad Setlist:
- Bottle Rocket
- Rock & Roll Soul
- Footstompin’ Music
- Shinin’ On
- The Loco-Motion (Carole King Cover)
- Second Chance (38 Special cover)
- Don Brewer Drum Solo
- Percussion Circle
- The Star-Spangled Banner
- Inside Looking Out (The Animals Cover)
- Some Kind of Wonderful (Soul Brothers Six Cover)
- I’m your Captain (Closer to Home)
- We’re an American Band
Grand Funk Railroad – Venue: Del Mar Fair