3 July 2005

Riverwalk Centre, Breckenridge, CO


It's been a hot Summer on the Colorado Front Range thus far, and I wanted to head up to higher altitude to cool out for a weekend. Not coincidentally, POCO was booked for the weekend, though I could have chosen from several venues on the band's tour schedule this year. I chose Breckenridge, and stayed at the Beaver Run ski resort, on the Western side of the valley.

Beaver Run is a five-tower complex, with all the amenities one would expect from a place designed for busy Winters. While swilling on tomato juice in the bar adjacent to the lobby, I saw both bassist Jack Sundrud, and lead guitarist Paul Cotton, who strolled with a cup of hot chocolate out to a park bench, with a visionary look on his face not too much different from that on his Firebird CD. Given his ability to evoke imagery through music, I couldn't help but wonder what he was able to see through his eyes at that moment.

The Riverwalk Centre park houses a stage with a concrete auditorium, now enclosed into a white tent-like structure. This venue seats about 700 or so. Very nice and intimate, with decent sound.

With original drummer George Grantham sadly sidelined by a stroke the previous Summer, and with George Lawrence filling in, I was curious about how the lineup change would affect the music.

The band has decided to use this changeup as an opportunity to substantially change their setlist for this year's tour, and have, as a result, dug out some rarely heard gems.

With no opening act, a re-worked, key-of-A, "Under The Gun" started the evening's show off with loud energy. Then, I was very pleased to to hear one of Rusty Young's best songs, "Save A Corner Of Your Heart", from the 1984 Inamorata album.

Rusty then talked about how the Tonight Show invited POCO to perform in late 1989, mentioning how Johnny Carson was just a few feet away. "Forget about singing, I couldn't breathe!", prior to "Call It Love".

Yet another one of my all-time favorites, "Midnight Rain" followed, as did an electrified "Pickin' Up The Pieces". No Richie Furay tonight--and though he didn't apparently make a visitation trek from Boulder, I noticed that his songwriting partner Scott Sellen did.

Also on the setlist were Jack Sundrud's "Never Get Enough" from Running Horse, "Rose of Cimarron", and "Indian Summer", "Crazy Love", and "If Your Heart Needs A Hand", also from Running Horse.

Paul performed two J.J. Cale songs, namely a beautiful "Magnolia", and a major-keyed "Cajun Moon". He also introduced "Bad Weather" with this "Paper Route" story--seems he wrote this song while delivering papers in 1970--but he won't say what kind of papers he was delivering. Prior to this humorous interlude, Rusty asked Paul, "Please don't tell that 'Paper Route' story," causing Paul to snap is finger in mock frustration (not that Rusty's request stopped him).

Not to be outdone, when a fan yelled, "Got any grapes?" (a punch line to one of many jokes in Rusty's catalog), Rusty responded by saying, "I told that one last night." For this evening, Rusty pulled out the pirate joke, and invited Paul and Jack to add to the sound effects.

Rusty introduced two Timothy B. Schmit songs, "Keep On Tryin'", and the rare "Find Out In Time" from their 1977 Indian Summer LP.

"Heart of the Night" ended a brilliant set as it always does, and Neil Young's "On The Way Home" filled the encore square.

Rusty, Paul, and Jack were kind enough to sign various forms of merchandise, including new a new solo album by Jack, and one by Paul (and produced by Jack).

I headed to Main street to grab dinner at a sports bar, and spent a comfortable night at the resort prior to a scenic drive home along U.S. Highway 24.

Overall, a very pleasant weekend.

[****1/2] - Steven T.

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