19 September 1998

Rialto Theatre, Loveland, CO


Many people make comparisons of this group to the Eagles. In some ways, POCO has acted as sort of a farm team for the Eagles, with members Randy Meisner and Timothy B. Schmidt both switching over from POCO to the Eagles years ago. I got to meet singer/guitarist Paul Cotton outside the front lobby about an hour before the show, taking a pre-concert drag on a cigarette. I tend to compare him to the Eagles' Don Felder, in terms of his looks, reserved mannerism, and lead guitar work.

The show got off to a very slow start because of severe sound problems. Lead singer and founding member Rusty Young, now almost shaven bald, and unrecongnizable to much of the audience, tried to assist as best possible. One could easily hear his frustration from time to time, "There's that NOISE again," he'd utter.

In an attempt to appease the audience during the 40-minute delay, Rusty once proceeded out of the dressing room, and up the aisles, handing out candy to the 400-strong at the historical Rialto Theatre. For those keeping tabs, I got a Butterfinger.

But, the audience was willing to wait it out, and the band made it onto the stage. Rusty, fresh out of a recent project with the Nashville-based Sky Kings, had his Fender Stratocaster hooked up to a Midi system. And thus, during the opening song, "Legend", when he plucked strings on his guitar, it sounded like a string synthesizer. Very cool.

Next came their 1989 top 20 hit, "Call It Love", and later, the FM classic, "Rose Of Cimarron". But then, more sound problems occurred, this time with Paul Cotton's microphone. Rusty tried to fill time by telling as many bar jokes as he could remember or make up. They eventually decided to take a microphone from Tim Smith's drum set, and slap it onto Cotton's stand. Rusty rationalized the swap by saying, "Tim's not a very good singer anyway".....joking.....of course.....

Over the years, the band has almost invariably kept their 1984 Billboard #80 single, "Days Gone By" on their set list, and tonight proved no exception. No complaints from me or the rest of the audience! Moving back to Rusty's lead vocals, the band performed slow, smooth, and very melodic versions of "Spellbound", and "Rough Edges", a song Randy Meisner took lead vocal chores on, in their 1989 studio version.

Rusty then talks about how Paul Cotton, in 1970, then with the group Illinois Speed Press, came over to perform his "Bad Weather" on acoustic guitar. Because POCO was soundly impressed by that song alone, they invited him to join the band full time. Paul peformed that song in similar fashion this evening, by himself, with just an acoustic 6-string. Very nice.

Next came a new song by Rusty, "(I'll Be Missing You) One Tear At A Time", perhaps his most beautiful composition in 15 years. Then came some of POCO's more familiar material, the trademark-riffed "Crazy Love", an absolutely immaculate "(In The) Heart Of The Night", and "Boomerang".

The pinnacle of the evening was yet to come, though. Earlier in the night, founding member, and now minister of the Calvary Chapel in Boulder, Richie Furay, greeted Rusty Young with a hug, saying, "I hardly recognized you!". For the encore, Richie made his way on stage to join the band for two songs Richie wrote over 25 years ago, "A Child's Claim To Fame", and perhaps his best song, "(A) Good Feeling To Know".

I got to meet Richie after the show. Amazing how a founding member of three famous rock bands (Buffalo Springfield, POCO, SHF) would take the time to chat, in a very friendly, sincere manner, with fans he's never met before. Richie, you're the coolest.

It would be a nice dream for the 1972 lineup of Furay, Young, Cotton, George Grantham, and Timothy B. Schmidt to reunite for an album to include many recently-penned songs. Tonight was as close as one could get to such a reality, at least in the last eight years.

[****] - Steven T.

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