By DAN MACINTOSH
COSTA MESA, CA – Jefferson Starship’s performance out on the OC Fair’s parking lot blacktop revealed how not all drive-in shows are the same.
Unlike Dawes’ show the night before in Anaheim, this Autosonic-promoted show sported a much more relaxed atmosphere. And relaxing is essential to fully enjoying a rock concert.
For starters, this venue didn’t prohibit outside food and beverages, so there was no car search at the entrance. Secondly, the bathrooms were readily available, and didn’t require patrons to pre-plan their bathroom activities, which was awkwardly the case in Anaheim. Furthermore, one of the event’s sponsors, Subaru, even volunteered to wash patron’s windshields before the concert. Little touches of customer service go a long way.
Jefferson Starship appeared to be sincerely glad to be there. The band hadn’t played a live gig since last February and was truly itching to get back in front of a crowd. Of course, Jefferson Starship today, isn’t much like the band of yesterday.
Visionary Paul Kantner is no longer with us, nor is the great vocalist Marty Balin. Grace Slick is also no longer a touring member. However, newer female vocalist, Cathy Richardson, is a singing powerhouse, and original member David Freiberg still has plenty of rock & roll energy. Richardson sang many of Slick’s signature songs, like “White Rabbit,” while Freiberg took most of Balin’s leads, including “Miracles.”
The band played for only about an hour but packed that short stint with plenty of hits and familiar songs. There’s a lot of rock music history in the Jefferson name, so these musicians had quite the legacy to uphold. The relatively sparse crowd was comprised of mainly older folks that still remember the ’60s, although the vehicle next to me had two teenage girls in the backseat. These girls may not have recognized everything, but there were more than enough classic rock nuggets for them to appreciate, if not fully know.
With the ease with which this Jefferson Starship concert went off, it’s surprising there haven’t been more such shows at the Fairgrounds. Social distancing may seem anathema to the rock concert experience, but in this instance, it worked out extremely well.
2. Find Your Way Back
3. It’s About Time
6. White Rabbit
8. We Built This City
9. Somebody to Love
10. Stairway to Cleveland