Grand Funk Railroad

Grand Funk Railroad

Variety Playhouse, Atlanta • 1.18.98

Well, ya hadda be there to appreciate the almost hysterical frenzy that greeted the return of these ’70s superstars. But judging from the reaction (blank unbelieving stares) I got from anyone under 40 who found out I was going to this show, you probably weren’t.

But lots of people were. Sold out at 30 bucks a pop, the fans were lined up in the pouring rain a full two hours before show time to get in. Tickets were being scalped outside the Variety, and the post-show traffic jam clogged up the street for a half hour. Inside, the three original members of GFR — Mark, Don, and Mel, no last names needed ya know — together for their first tour in 20 years and looking no worse for the wear, were greeted by a thunderous ovation usually reserved for icons like the Stones. And, chuckle all you want, but they sounded great!

The hard rocking, funkless trio ran through hits from all of their multi-platinum albums with obvious enthusiasm and total professionalism. Even Don Brewer’s requisite 10-minute drum solo was a sort of charming, although wince-inducing, return to the good old days.

Nostalgic? Sure. That’s what everyone wanted, and that’s what they got. Exuberant run-throughs of “Closer To Home,” “Paranoid,” “Inside Looking Out,” and their chart topping “Locomotion” had even the most skeptical (like me) smiling and jutting their forty-something beer fisted hands in the air.

They’re an American band. They came to town to help us party down. And lemme tell all of you too hipsters, it was a blast, damn it!

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