Nostalgia was the theme when Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades donned their acoustic axes and played an intimate show for the good people of Annapolis. Tunes from both members' former bands, as well as a selection of other classic rock greats, lit up the night for an audience that ... in the end ... wasn't left wanting
By Mike Pursley
Photos by Bobby Bank
Shaw Blades is Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades. Tommy played in Styx while Jack is famous for his work with Night Ranger and Damn Yankees. Together as Shaw Blades, they perform a mix of acoustic classic rock covers and originals, mostly sixties and seventies stuff, some eighties. Their second album,
Influence, was released in March.
I caught the early show at Ram's Head Live in downtown Annapolis. When we arrived we were seated at a table near the sound board. The place was completely packed and there were servers squeezing around the tables with pitchers of beer and sandwiches. The classic rock brought out an older audience than most shows I attend, mostly folks in their 40s and 50s. Needless to say, the ambiance was quite a bit different from the last show I covered
I barely had time to remove my coat when Shaw Blades took the stage. Jack, Tommy, and backing guitarist and singer Will Evankovich whipped up a quick round of
"Not Fade Away" before saying hello. Next was their take on the relaxed 1972 Seals and Croft hit"
Jack Blades & Tommy Shaw
It was soon evident that these guys knew what they were doing musically. The sound was clean and the vocal harmonies sounded gorgeous. The acoustic guitar duo thing has been around for a while, and most of the songs on the set list came out before I was born, but sitting there and listening to well-performed classic rock staples felt mighty nice. The intimate setting of the venue was a good fit for this acoustic act. Shaw Blades were able to make everyone feel like old friends, and the crowd was completely loose and singing along by the third song, Styx's
"Too Much Time on My Hands."
My personal favorite of the night happened to be Yes' "Your Move." Coincidentally, I've been working hard at my chess game as of late, and plus it's simply a great song. Shaw and Blades' voices were totally pristine and at the end of
"Your Move" the audience simply exploded with applause and satisfaction.
Other tunes I recognized were "I am a Rock," "For What it's Worth," "Stop in the Name of Love,"
"Can You Take Me Higher," "Sounds of Silence," "Sister Christian," and "California Dreamin'." Shaw and Blades also shared a few wild tales that only a lifetime of playing rock
'n' roll can make. My personal favorite was about hard rocking mountain man Ted Nugent, who wailed away unruffled on his guitar during rehearsal in the midst of an earthquake.
There were two standing ovations at the show, one at the end of the set and one after the encore. I can't recall the last show I've
seen where that has happened. Not knowing much about Shaw Blades before going to
the show, I wasn't sure what to expect. It turned out to be classic material performed by great musicians, a perfect combination for any classic rock fan looking for a good show to go see.
Ram's Head Live