By Simone Goldstone | Soundcheck Columnist
“What the hell 2020? What the hell?” Cathy Richardson, frontwoman of acclaimed rock band Jefferson Starship, asked the audience at the band’s Oct. 18 drive-in concert at the OC Fair & Event Center.
Jefferson Starship proved they are every bit as relevant now as they were throughout their stratospheric career that spanned decades with a performance that blew the audience into a galaxy far, far away.
Most shocking was their energy and voices. Dressed in leather and looking as young as they felt, the band electrified the asphalt arena. Jefferson Starship had us dancing, singing along, and clouded us in energetic nostalgia from the 60s to the 80s, when they were the iconic frontrunners of stadium shows. It seems once an Arena rock band, always an Arena rock band.
Despite missing their late bassist Paul Kantner, old songs and new songs lit up the night. Launching into their new music from “Mother of the Sun,” Richardson kicked off the night with “It’s About Time.” The driving beat was enough to get us out of our cars and dancing on the pavement, never mind the impactful, poignant lyrics about saving our environment.
Many of Jefferson Starship’s songs are more of call-to-actions and anthems than simple tunes. Richardson shook the ground with her powerhouse of a voice, but she wasn’t the only one. David Frieberg also projected a voice as loud and clear as a bell. His voices was as smooth and crystalline as ever.
“It’s About Time” was co-written with Jefferson Airplane’s former lead-singer, Grace Slick. The much-awaited new song lives up to the hype and is all the more meaningful when performed live.
“Thousands of years, what have we learned? The hurricanes churn and the wildfires burn,” sand Richardson to a scorched southern California still reeling from the wildfires.
In-between their new songs, their set list was spotted with classic bangers. Performing stadium hits fitted the parking lot vibe, and the group skyrocketed their set with a heart-warming rendition of “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now.”
To add to their impressive and memorable repertoire, highlights such as “We Built This City” and “Jane” followed suit. As if that wasn’t enough, the group revisited their old roots and shocked us all with a psychedelic trip back to the 60s with “White Rabbit.”
Just when we thought the incredible night was over, the band roared to life again with an encore one could only hope for. In addition to getting the audience involved with singing back a spirited chorus of “yeah yeah yeahs,” the group streamlined right into what some concert goers where hoping to hear: familiar and timeless songs we could dance and groove to.
Before the cars could take off out of the parking lot, thinking that the night was over, Richardson stopped the audience with a lively and high-powered “Somebody to Love.” New songs “Runaway Again” and “What Are We Waiting For” followed, and they topped off the night with the ever-so-timely and classic “Volunteers.”
Jefferson Starship blew away all expectation and transported us to a night of rock and roll that may not be topped any time soon.
The band proved that good old fashioned rock and roll is here to stay, and continues to ignite the culture and capture audiences no matter how many years seem to pass.
The Jefferson Starship concert concluded a successful fall season of drive-in concerts. The drive-in concerts at the OC Fair will continue in March 2021.