DVD Review: Foghat – Live in St. Pete

DVD Review: Foghat – Live in St. Pete
All Access Rating: B+

Foghat - Live in St. Pete 
The road is littered with the spent carcasses of bands that couldn't survive the grind of touring for interminably long stretches at a time. Roger Earl is made of stronger stuff, and so is Foghat.

Barnstorming their way through the '70s, the raucous blues-infused, boogie-powered, hard-rock gypsies toured relentlessly, proving themselves to be a dynamite live act night after sweaty night, slugging it out under the lights on stages from coast to coast and country to country. If anybody needed confirmation of their raw firepower in a concert setting, 1977's searing Foghat Live album, one of the truly great concert albums in rock 'n' roll history, settled the issue for good.

Earl is all that's left from the original lineup that broke off in 1970 from British blues freight train Savoy Brown, but bassist Craig MacGregor's been a fixture in Foghat since 1975, and those are his boisterous, brawling grooves on classic releases Foghat Live, Night Shift and Stone Blue. And they aren't ready to call a day just yet.

Joining forces with vocalist/guitarist Charlie Huhn, who's played with the likes of Humble Pie, Gary Moore and Ted Nugent, and lead/slide guitarist Bryan Bassett, formerly of Wild Cherry and Molly Hatchet, Earl and MacGregor, such a powerhouse rhythm section, are keeping the Foghat legacy alive, the band still going at it hammer and tong onstage, as a new no-filler live DVD, "Live in St. Pete," so emphatically makes clear.

Devoid of frills, but filmed with great attention to the stellar musicianship of this version of Foghat, "Live in St. Pete" lacks the state-of-the-art visual sharpness taken for granted with such releases these days, but the images of a rollicking band having a whale of time and completely comfortable in its own skin are shot with welcome clarity and warmth.

Full of vim and vigor, and as tenacious as junkyard dogs, these blue-collar heroes run through high-energy favorites like "Drivin' Wheel" and "Fool For the City" with passion and a youthful playfulness, even though they've probably played them both thousands of times. Cooked to a rolling boil, with that insistent throb, "I Just Want to Make Love to You" is maybe less wolfish here than in Foghat's heyday, but they bring more unabashed joy to it nowadays, while Foghat's cover of "Take Me to the River" is delivered with gripping soulfulness and gospel fervor, thanks to Huhn's hard-scrabble vocals.

"Road Fever," "My Babe," "Stone Blue" – Foghat rides roughshod on all of them, but saves their best for the churning closer "Slow Ride," where Bassett's delicious slide guitar drawl sounds greasy and cutting at the same time, as he unleashes a bevy of sinister and seductive movements. "Live in St. Pete" is unspoiled Foghat, suffused with the humidity and summery atmosphere of Florida. The good times never seem to end with Earl and the crew. www.foghatcellars.com; www.facebook.com/foghat; www.youtube.com/foghatmusic
– Peter Lindblad

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