38 Special - Live in Kansas

Kansas Star Casino
Mulvane, Kansas
January 27, 2018

By Jeb Wright

Set List:
Rockin Into The Night |Rough-Housin' |Back Where You Belong |Wild-Eyed Southern Boys |Back to Paradise |The Sound of Your Voice |Somebody Like You |Honky Tonk Dancer |Teacher Teacher |You Keep Runnin' Away |Second Chance |Like No Other Night |Feelin' Stronger Every Day | Ride The Storm |If I'd Been the One |Fantasy Girl |Medley - What's It To Ya?/ Trooper With an Attitude/ Drum Solo |Caught Up in You

Chain Lightning |Hold On Loosely |Travelin' Band

Don Barnes brought his band, 38 Special, to Mulvane, Kansas and rocked it into the night with a hit laden set and a few surprise cover tunes. The result was a fun show that had the nearly full house on their feet several times during the night.

The band, in 2018, features lone original member Don Barnes on guitar and vocals and guitarist/vocalist Danny Chauncey, bassist Barry Dunaway, drummer Gary Moffatt and keyboardist/vocalist Bobby Capps.

They do a fine job of recreating the sounds of 38 Special.

Let’s be honest about this though…This is not anything close to the band that was there when the hits were made. Very much missed, vocally as well as visually, is vocalist Donnie Van Zant. He is Southern Rock Royalty and he is missed. That said…Mr. Barnes is doing a great job at furthering 38 Special’s legacy.

The band took no time bringing the past into the present when they opened with what was their first FM radio hit back in the day. “Rockin’ Into the Night” has it all and was a wonderful way to start the show.  The presence of Bobby Capps was felt immediately, as he joined vocal forces with Barnes to create a wall of sound. The two men blend perfectly and fill up the songs nicely.

Guitarist Danny Chauncey takes many leads throughout the night…although he lets the boss have plenty of solos as well. They two play well off of each other. The rhythm section is solid as well. That said, in this day and age Don Barnes is 38 Special…and truth be told…he kinda always was. His songs were what brought the band fame and fortune. He is able to take a singer/songwriter approach, make it swing, make it rock…but keep it all from going over the top. The lead breaks are precise, and well placed. The energy builds…swoons and the energy ranges from electric to feel-good laid back.

The band’s best album…at least in this writer’s opinion was 1981’s Wild-Eyed Southern Boys. On this night four tunes found their way into the set from the classic album.

“Wild-Eyes Southern Boys” was the guitar fest from the album performed on this night. The crowd ate up the many licks and solos. “Fantasy Girl” and “Hold On Loosely” are classics and both went down well. “Honky Tonk Dancer” was the deep album cut…but maybe “First Time Around” or “Hittin’ and Runnin’”would have been better choices.

The band’s other two huge albums were well represented as well.  Special Forces’ “Caught Up In You” had the crowd signing along. "Chain Lightnin'" was met with huge cheers to kick off the encore while “Rough-Housin'" and "You Keep Runnin'” were part of the main set of huge radio hits included on this night.

Tour de Force, originally released in 1984 had two crowd favorites included in the set. “If I’d Been the One” saw every female in the audience bopping along while “Back Where You belong” simply brought the roof down.

The set list was kind of interesting.

 The band opened hot…then took time to go through the songs from their poppy phase. This was the most boring part of the show in many ways.  Sure…the songs were big…but they were not the best the band had to offer, music-wise.

“Teacher Teacher,” “The Sound of Your Voice” and “Back to Paradise” were well played …but they kinda sucked the air out of the crowd.  “Second Chance” is a song that hardcore fans from the early incarnation of the band hate. Sure…Bobby Capps knocked the Max Carl vocal in the ass…but a bad song is still a bad song.

Thank god, Barnes & Company had a lot left to trot out after this or they may have lost part of the crowd. Luckily, “Like No Other Night” injected energy back into the performance.

What came next was really cool. 

Back in the 1980s Barnes recorded, but never released a solo album titled Ride the Storm. It is a damn good album that now, thanks to MelodicRock Records, is finally available!

The band performed two songs off the album back-to-back. Up first was a remake of the Chicago classic “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day.” This one rocked! The crowd were both surprised and fired up to here the classic tune pumped full of rockin’ guitars. The band played the title track, “Ride the Storm” next and it too went over well. This song features a lot of killer solos. Don was smiling ear-to-ear during this one.

But…people were there to hear 38 Special classics.

Once done with two solo tunes the band jumped right back on track with “If I’d Been the One” followed by one of the evening’s finest musical moments, “Fantasy Girl.” The band played a few more tunes before ending the main set with “Caught Up in You.” This one, predictably, was well received.

The stage filled with smoke and thunder thundered through the speakers as the band came back out and did a heavy version of “Chain Lightning.” With that song in the bag everyone in attendance knew that “Hold On Loosely” was up next. Everyone danced and sang along…figuring the band was going out with a bang.

When the song ended 38 Special surprised everyone with a fun rendition of the Creedence Clearwater Revival classic “Traveling Band.” Barnes was, once again, all smiles, as he looked out to the crowd, satisfied that the band had brought their all on this Saturday night.  

Barnes has a cool vibe. He is not rock star cool…but he commands attention. He is not the best guitarist/singer or songwriter in the business. Yet…he has his own voice and his own sound. He delivers giant hooks and memorable songs…which it what is needed to have music like this…music that stands the test of time.

Visit 38 Special at http://38special.com/

Purchase Don’s solo album Ride the Storm here: https://www.amazon.com/Ride-Storm-DON-BARNES/dp/B071W49HRY