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LYNYRD SKYNYRD - BB&T Pavilion • Camden, New Jersey
Written By: Gary Crouthamel
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LYNYRD SKYNYRD - BB&T Pavilion • Camden, New Jersey
LYNYRD SKYNYRD - BB&T Pavilion • Camden, New Jersey
LYNYRD SKYNYRD - BB&T Pavilion • Camden, New Jersey
LYNYRD SKYNYRD - BB&T Pavilion • Camden, New Jersey
LYNYRD SKYNYRD - BB&T Pavilion • Camden, New Jersey
Saturday, August 19, 2017
        After a recorded version of AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" playing over the house P.A. system with the near sellout crowd all in their seats and ready for the show, a voice comes over the P.A. system and says, "Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Lynyrd Skynyrd!”  The band hit the stage, with the video screen behind the band sporting the logo  "Lynyrd Skynyrd Tour 2017," and took fans on a trip down memory lane with a night of rock ‘n roll classics that made the band what they are today. They opened with "Workin' for MCA", "What's Your Name" and "Saturday Night Special" before lead singer Johnny Van Zant  would stop and tell the crowd, "Skynyrd's in the house!" Then after the next song, "I Know a Little", front man Van Zant who always likes to get the crowd into the show asks, "so for how many of you out there is this your first Skynyrd show?” It’s still surprising to me but quite a lot of applauses from the crowd. Next up, "Down South Jukin;” where now the "Honkettes,” Dale Krantz Rossington (wife of lead guitarist and founding member Gary Rossington) and Carol Chase, take their positions on a circular platform on the right side of the stage for background vocals on the song; throughout the night they are off and on the platform. Van Zant now thanks everyone for their love and support and holds up a red solo cup and says, cheers from Skynyrd Nation before going into "That Smell". Next is always a highlight of a Skynryd’s show when Van Zant  asks the crowd if anyone has family or friends in the military or the service industry, for which he always receives a thunderous applause. “Take out your cell phones and hold them high in the air because this next song goes out to those who serve this Nation to protect us;  please help me sing this one,” as he sings "Simple Man.” The pavilion and lawn are now illuminated by hundreds of cell phones and half way through the song Van Zant says, "Everybody doing ok?"  After the song he says, “Whenever we play Philadelphia and Camden, NJ, you guys are always so good to us." He then takes a minute to introduce the band.
        On guitar is original and founding member Gary Rossington, the other two guitarists, Rickey Medlocke and Mark Matejka, drummer Michael Cartellone, and the newest member of the Skynyrd family on bass, Keith Christopher, and on the keyboards Peter Keys. “Hi,” he says, “I'm Johnny Van Zant and we are Lynyrd Skynyrd!” He asks Keys to, “Take us into the next song and play it pretty for original keyboardist Billy Powell who passed away in 2009,” to which "GimmeThree Steps” begins with the  backdrop now showing an American Flag with the Lynyrd Skynyrd logo through it. On this song all four guitarists are at the edge of the stage just tearing through the song. This song used to be their third song of the set and was always a great photo op. On the next song, "Call Me the Breeze", in the middle where the lyrics say "might go down to Georgia", Van Zant now says, "But I’d rather be in Jersey tonight", and once again all four guitarists are at the edge of the stage. With the backdrop now displaying the Rebel Flag and a smaller one on Van Zant's mic stand, and the stage all in Red, White & Blue lights, the band goes into "Sweet Home Alabama", where he says, "I can’t hear you.” As the crowd sings louder he says, "That's better" and at the end of the song he says, "Thank You New Jersey, Lynyrd Skynyrd Loves you and God Bless" to end their first set.
        The stage is in total darkness until a spotlight shines down on a gold Eagle atop the piano and the crowd begins chanting Skynyrd, Skynyrd, Keys takes to the piano and starts a little solo that leads into the opening chords of "Freebird". Through the start of "Freebird", where you hear sounds like birds chirping, this is actually Rossington playing a glass slide on the neck of his guitar. "Cool or what". Now you will have to go and listen right? The backdrop now shows a picture of an Eagle in flight clutching the American Flag with the names of all the deceased members of the band written in the clouds. And through the opening words Van Zant always looks up to the Heavens above and says, "Yes Sir", a dedication to his late brother Ronnie Van Zant. And just like on Skynyrd's live album (pronounced Len-nerd Skin-nerd), he says, "Play it pretty for Philly and Jersey tonight.” At the end of the vocals, he always throws his mic stand to his roadie from one side of the stage to the other as he walks off to let the band do an amazing version of the song and to end a great night of music.
        After the song is over, Van Zant rejoins the band for some last bows and waves, throwing picks and drumsticks and high-fives to the crowd before exiting.
        And don't forget, we have Lynyrd Skynyrd playing right here in our own backyard this summer appearing at the  "2017 OC Bikefest" at the inlet parking lot. They are playing on Saturday, September 16th, along with opening act Molly Hatchet. So if you’re a big fan, come out to the show and look for me; I will be there representing Skynyrd Nation. Plus it’s a hell of a show and these guys give you 110%; so don't miss this great concert right here at home.
– Gary Crouthamel, Concert Photojournalist
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