CHS Field in St. Paul was the venue for the Children Matter Benefit concert. Gene Simmons helped found the organization, which helps kids around the world attain access to healthcare. The proceeds for Wednesday’s concert were specifically for victims of hurricane Harvey. There was also the ability to make donations during the concert, which was mentioned by several of the artists throughout the night.
The night started with an appearance by the Jayhawks. The Jayhawks are a Minneapolis based alt-country band that formed in the 80s. People were still filing into the stadium when the Jayhawks took the stage, slightly ahead of their scheduled start time. The Jayhawks were a great, mellow start to the evening and were enjoyed by the people in attendance. It has been a while since I heard the Jayhawks, but they sounded every bit as good as the last time I saw them.
Next up was Flipp, another Minneapolis based band, but that is where the similarity with the Jayhawks ends. I hadn’t heard of them before, but was entertained and really enjoyed their music. They are loud and in your face and frontman Brynn Arens taunted a classmate that called him a freak and strutted and pouted throughout their short set. Like the Jayhawks, Flipp played a short set, but I would have been very happy to hear more. I would definitely recommend Flipp to hard rock fans and will watch for more their concerts in the future.
Gene Simmons made a brief appearance asking the crowd for donations for The Children Matter and to introduce the next act – Cheap trick. Simmons referred to Cheap Trick as the Greatest Rock n Roll band in the world. I love 70s music and listen to Cheap Trick occasionally, but hadn’t seen them in concert. I was very curious to see how the band has evolved over the years. Well, they are alive and well. Rick Nielsen was all over the stage and Robin Zander sounded as good as ever. They played their biggest hits and the crowd loved them. “Surrender” and “I want you to want me” were the highlights of their short set. The really got the fans rocking and wanting more.
Next up was Don Felder. Felder was a guitarist for the Eagles from 1974 – 2001, but has been touring with his own band more recently. His solo career started in the 80s and continued during downtime with the Eagles. Felder brought back Robin Zander for one song and Rick Nielsen for another during his 4 song set. For the last song, he broke out his famous double neck guitar and played Hotel California. Felder has not been known for his singing, but I thought he sounded great. The crowd enjoyed the set, especially the extended version of Hotel California.
After Felder, Gne Simmons and his band took the stage. Simmons played a number of familiar Kiss songs and interfaced regularly with the crowd in between songs. The concert advertised Ace Frehley and Frehley was noticable missing during the first part of the set. Then Simmons introduced Frehley and the crowd erupted. Together they played Kiss hit’s Parasite, Cold Gin and Shock me. Simmons seemed to enjoy Frehley’s performance as much as the crowd. In between, Simmons had a 12 year old boy play drums for one song and he played remarkably well. Simmons also invited 10 women on stage during a sing along and spent some time talking about the Children matter Foundation. He introduced Minnesota business owners Dennis and Megan Doyle, who started Hope for the City in 2000, which evolved into Matter.
He then announced he was ordered to get off the stage due to the time, but not before they could play the Kiss staple “Rock ‘n Roll all night”. Simmons invited 50 people on stage to sing and dance during the song. The stage rocked, the crowd rolled and the concert came to an end. Listening to the crowd while exiting, it seemed all enjoyed the show. The crowd ranged from young kids to older gray hairs and balding men. It seems you’re never too old (or young) to rock and roll.