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Concert Reviews: Will Hoge

Will Hoge/The Wallflowers/John Mellencamp
The Tweeter Center Camden, NJ
September 16, 2001
By: Lauren Jonik (lauren@soundaffects.net)


Sometimes, the things that seem most elusive are what is needed most. Less than a week after the tragedies that occurred in NYC, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001, I had the pleasure of seeing Will Hoge, The Wallflowers and John Mellencamp in concert at the Tweeter Center in Camden, NJ. Like most people in the USA and around the world, the events of the week left me with mixed emotions. I was feeling sad, subdued and somber, yet even more deeply grateful than ever for life itself.  Suddenly, it felt like we had gained a greater awareness for the present moment--- that this is our time. Now. Right now.

Before the concert, the question of whether it would even go on lingered--- and even more so, was it okay for it to go on? Was it okay to do something that is much like a celebration in the face of such horrors? Secretly, I wondered, was it okay to be happy? At the show, simply being surrounded by the music would satisfy me with the answers I needed.

On the Levi's side stage, Will Hoge and his band, consisting of Brian Layson on guitar, Tres Sasser on bass and Kirk Yoquelet on drums played to the small crowd that was gathering. The location of the stage was such that if you were on the other side of the venue and didn't know it existed, you might not find it. Even under the difficult circumstances, the band still shined.  One of the truest tests of any professional--- or human being--- is how well you do when presented with a challenge. This is a band who exudes the same energy and passion whether they are playing before a crowd of 1000 or a handful of folks wandering by on their way to the concession stand. That their focus is all about the music was clearly evident throughout their two sets, which included Welcome to the Big Show, Rock and Roll Star, She Don't Care, and Draw The Curtain, a song not on their debut album, Carousel.

The Wallflowers took the main stage and continued to warm up the crowd as nightfall was descending. They played many of their most well-known songs, like Sleepwalker, Letters From the Wasteland, 6th Avenue Heartache, and Three Marlenas. One Headlight and the timely Heroes especially stood out. This was one of the last shows The Wallflowers performed with guitarist Michael Ward before his departure from the band.

Standing on the lawn, atop a hill, I gazed down at the stage while John Mellencamp shared with the crowd his numerous recognizable hits--- Jack and Diane, Paper In Fire, Authority Song, I Saw You First. By this time, the collective mood had seemed to lighten. As a beach ball was being tossed around by someone behind me, it seemed like people were genuinely enjoying themselves. Still, I had the underlying sense that even as playful joy surrounded me, I wasn't able to fully connect with it. It was there, but just a little out of reach. Suddenly, I turned and glanced over my shoulder in the direction of the city lights of Philadelphia, just across the river from Camden. I noticed the Walt Whitman Bridge lit up in red, white and blue and a quote I once had read wandered through my head. "Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy." --- Anne Frank   I returned my attention to the stage, to the music, to where I was and I recalled the lyrics to "Peaceful World," a song John Mellencamp had performed earlier in the evening. "Everything's as cool as can be in a peaceful world." I couldn't help but smile to myself and believe.


http://www.willhoge.com
http://www.thewallflowers.com
http://www.mellencamp.com


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