Foghat's concert Saturday night at Sandy Amphitheater was a too-quick excursion down memory lane that ended predictably with one exquisite "Slow Ride."
Foghat is one of those bands whose candle burned bright nationally for half a decade long ago, creating a catalog of memorable, hard-driving "boogie rock" anthems that have powered a thousand or more live performances ever since. There's a lot of great material in the albums from that period, certainly enough to carry more than a 12-song, 80-minute headlining show for well-versed fans, which is what the band performed Saturday.
It seemed like things were really starting to hit stride in the band's show on a cool June evening when all of a sudden the group launched into main-set closer "I Just Want to Make Love to You" and took about a one-minute encore break before returning for the obligatory "Slow Ride."
Always leave them wanting more is a worthy entertainment adage, and Foghat definitely delivered on that. But would an extra 15-20 minutes and another three to four songs hurt anyone?
Foghat proper rose to prominence in the mid-1970s, when the band recorded and released its vintage -- and best -- material. I say the band proper, because since 1980 or so, Foghat has become a revolving door of musicians whose only historical constant has been original drummer Roger Earl. The band's Wikipedia entry, for example, accounts for 19 different members over the years -- and even that doesn't reflect all the changes as there were several times where previous members have both returned and exited the fold on additional occasions. Three of the band's most prominent members, in fact, have passed away, including originals Lonesome Dave Peverett (in 2000) and Rod Price (2005), as well as Craig McGregor (2018).
Foghat today still features Earl, and is rounded out by guitarist/vocalist Charlie Huhn, lead guitarist Bryan Bassett and touring bassist Rodney O'Quinn.
Foghat opened the show with "Driving Wheel," which is a near-perfect opener for the group. The song features a powerful guitar riff and showcases the groove-based rhythm that set the group apart from most of its contemporaries.
"Road Fever" and "Chateau Lafitte '59 Boogie" were early offerings, and are great examples of the quality of material included on Foghat albums that never really found their way onto radio airwaves.
"Take Me to the River" was an absolute revelation mid-set. It's indeed a rarity that I will be completely knocked out by an old album track of a band I followed closely over the years. If I didn't own the album or wasn't familiar with it back in the day, for example, usually the band would have played the song a lot in concert or it would have crossed my radar in some fashion. But somehow I'd never heard "Take Me to the River," an obscure cover song off the 1976 "Night Shift" album. This song really knocked me out Saturday, and I've since found it online and enjoyed multiple repeat listens.
Peverett's vocals and rhythm guitar were such a huge part of the Foghat sound, and Huhn did an admirable job of doing them justice. Bassett, a former member of Wild Cherry, also proved to master the slide guitar domain that was Price's legacy. Huhn and Bassett also recreated the Peverett-Price live dynamic of playing off each other and trading off lead solo breaks on several songs, such as "It Hurts Me Too," "Take Me To the River," "Home in My Hand" and "I Just Want to Make Love to You."
Foghat's busy bass lines are also a distinct part of the band's sound, and O'Quinn not only handled them with aplomb, but he was easily the most active and animated figure onstage most of the performance.
"Third Time Lucky" and "Chevrolet" were excellent bridges to the back half of the set, which ended with four straight songs from the band's landmark 1977 "Foghat Live" album, the group's highest-selling record.
O'Quinn spoke to the crowd about how the album buying experience was so different back then, and how people would flock to record stores and look at the album covers, etc., before purchasing them.
"One day this album came out," O'Quinn said of "Foghat Live," "and you just held it up like it was the Holy Grail."
"Foghat Live" actually had a unique album cover/sleeve design, with the cover featuring a cutout of the word "Live" with one onstage photo of each band member perfectly positioned in the letter openings when the sleeve was inserted to the proper side.
The "Foghat Live" suite featured "Fool For the City," probably the band's second-best-known song, "Home in My Hand" and the aforementioned "I Just Want to Make Love to You" and "Slow Ride."
Personally speaking, seeing Foghat live for the first time in 41 years was a welcome flashback to the band's heyday and a catalog of music I truly loved. I'm looking forward to breaking out some old albums in the days ahead and staying in a Foghat state of mind for a while longer.
Classic rock fans will have several more opportunities to get their mojo rising this summer at Sandy Amphitheater, with a handful of rock-based shows among the venue's busy schedule. Other rock shows of interest include Beatles tribute Imagine on June 21, Rolling Stones tribute Satisfaction on July 12, Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo (along with Melissa Etheridge) on July 16, Collective Soul and Gin Blossoms on Aug. 27, Zeppelin USA tribute on Sept. 13, and Brian Wilson and The Zombies on Sept. 19. Click here for a full listing of Sandy Amphitheater events this summer.