What's in a name? Well, quite a bit if it's Dragon.
This 40th anniversary tour is essentially a tribute to the band's name - close to 40 members have drifted by, and the only surviving member from the band's young years is bassist Todd Hunter. Tonight, he looks about as rock'n'roll as Gray Bartlett making a ham sandwich. It's as if he has wandered on to the stage and picked up a bass to use as a prop while he waits for the kids next door.
So Hunter is the chaperone for the evening, and Mark Williams has been playing the frontman for the best part of a decade now. He does it well. He has enthusiasm, still has a solid voice and can multitask on keys and acoustic guitar, even if his keyboard did, at one point, start playing without him.
There were missed cues and slow starts, and when one of the band's iconic songs, April Sun in Cuba, started up, it was as if the guitarist was trying to carve its riff into place using a piece of glass on a strip of tin.
There was no subtlety, and so many of the songs sounded the same. For every catchy pop song from the past, there are half a dozen that should have stayed there. From 40 years of memories, we got less than a handful of quality songs, and there were strange technical issues interrupting the flow. None of that seemed to matter.
Many in the audience were chanting the lyrics back at the band, often with a vein in the throat seeming as if it might pop. A guy down the row from me air-drummed to most of the songs, very, very quickly. It was Dragon. And almost everyone was still in love with the sound and the name and, especially, the songs.
Hello Sailor's set was superb. They still have the goods - and the members. And their new songs didn't feel like filler.
Hammond Gamble's opening blues set was well received also.
- The Dominion Post