On a sticky, summer, Sunday night, some of the oldest rockers you may or may not know, took the stage in Camden to show the younger generations what it looks like to be oozing with talent. Ben FM’s Summer Bender Tour brought together Cheap Trick, Joan Jett, and Heart for the kind of show that appeals to an audience that spans generations. While me being a 70’s baby, 80’s kid, and 90’s teen may have made me the perfect demographic for this tour, there was no shortage of people, especially women, both older and younger than me, there to appreciate talented musicians. While some may scoff at their ages, these old school rockers brought new meaning to the lyrics, “Daddy’s alright, mommy’s alright, they just seem a little weird…”
Cheap Trick opened the show and while I missed the very beginning of their set, I made it onto the very crowded Lundy Lawn just in time to catch the bulk of the performance. Cheap Trick has a reputation for touring, having played over 5,000 live performances over four decades. They bring such a fun and infectious energy to the stage that even camped out on the lawn on a blanket I was able to feel the good vibes being spread. Dream Police was a crowd favorite and had everybody up and moving as well as the usual classics like Surrender and I Want You to Want Me. Robin Zander showed no signs of aging as he belted out the tunes while setting the pace on lead guitar. It was a great start to a fun filled night.
Next up on the roster was Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. Seeing Joan Jett made me officially believe that somewhere out there a Lazarus Pit exists because this woman does not seem to be aging and if she is it has not affected her gorgeous glowing skin or her ability to rock out. Another fantastic set rife with newer material from her Unvarnished LP, clearly this was a crowd that was here for the oldies and always goodies like Do You Wanna Touch Me, Bad Reputation, and one of my personal favorites, I Hate Myself For Loving You. The band killed on the covers, from The Runaways Cherry Bomb to Bruce Springsteen’s Light of Day. They wrapped the show up by covering Sly and The Family Stone’s Everyday People. Over all, the pushing 60 rock and roll femme fatale had no problem leading her slightly younger yet still vastly experienced bandmates through a set that had young and old getting down and dirty.
Finally, after the sun had set and the humidity dropped slightly, Heart took the stage to close out the night. Opening up with Wild Child, the center of the band, sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson, were not to be outdone by the other legends on the bill and immediately got the crowd on their feet. They continued to play the classics including Magic Man, What About Love, and These Dreams. The lawn sounded like a massive women’s choir as everybody sang along to the voice of a woman that sounded as good live as it does on my iPod. The song selection was perfect for ending a hot summer night, somewhat melodic and relaxing. Then of course, we start to turn it up a bit. Picking up the tempo with Kick It Out and Beautiful Broken, by the time they started to belt out Alone, the crowd was on their feet, swaying and singing in the summer heat waiting to go crazy. Heart of course, was happy to oblige as Nancy Wilson took center stage and went into infamous song’s guitar solo opening that sounded as perfect as you would it expect it to coming from a seasoned guitar goddess. They wrapped up their material with Barracuda and ended with an encore of Led Zeppelin covers. The Immigrant Song followed by Stairway to Heaven. What better way for a guitar goddess to show off her prowess?
This was definitely a show that could’ve went either way. Veteran rockers who have been at this since the 70’s? It could’ve been a night of cringing and wincing as you watched the legends you love show their age and have you thinking maybe it’s time they hung it up. Instead, they packed a punch and showed why all 3 bands are members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. With an average of 30+ years’ experience amongst the band members, they showed of their skills not their ages. These artists have created timeless hits, evident by the age range of fans in the crowd, and played these hits with the skill and mastery of true seasoned vets. On this summer night in Camden, a bunch of 60 year olds hit the stage and proved that following your passion is the path to the fountain of youth.
Pictures by Megan Hawkey, Words by Heather Fox