In a time when the world has begun to take the tiniest of steps back to normalcy, it’s a relief to know that there are still some constants in the world. And one of those constants is the awesomeness of a live show with Billy McGuigan and his band. That awesomeness is available for your enjoyment again as Billy and his band bring you Rave On: The Music of Buddy Holly in the parking lot of the Omaha Community Playhouse.
This time around the show is not about Billy being Buddy or his extemporaneous wit and humor. This time, it’s all about a band playing non-stop, untarnished, unvarnished, old-fashioned rock and roll with a 50s drive-in flair on an unseasonably perfect night for an outdoor concert.
It wouldn’t be a Billy McGuigan show without some of his classic storytelling, but the tales were kept to a minimum as he and his band were clearly hungry for a live audience and gave us their all in a 90 minute rockfest that featured the hits and obscurities of the late, great Buddy Holly along with a few other surprises as well.
McGuigan was in rare form tonight as he fueled himself on the applause and horn honks of an energetic audience and fired that energy right back at us with takes on “Maybe Baby”, “That’ll Be the Day”, “Handsome Brown Eyed Man”, a rare performance of one of Holly’s earliest recordings, “Midnight Shift”, and a 15 minute medley framed by “Oh, Boy!”. Occasionally Billy would slow things down a few notches with his mellifluous tenor serenading the crowd with Richie Valens’ “Donna” and Holly’s own legendary soft song “True Love Ways” before ramping it back up a bit with “Crying, Waiting, Hoping” and the Everly Brothers hits, “Bye Bye Love” and “Wake Up Little Suzie” and closing things out with “Rave On” and an original rocker of his own creation, “Me and Peggy Sue”.
McGuigan was excellently supported by his band as we were treated to numerous saxophone solos from Darren Pettit and nearly as many guitar solos from Max Meyer, a phenom with chops to rival Jimi Hendrix. Ryan McGuigan rocked out on rhythm guitar and provided a nifty little solo with Ritchie Valens’ “La Bamba” while Matthew McGuigan’s bass playing drove the beat and he got his own little chance to shine with Carl Perkins’ “Blue Suede Shoes”. Newcomer Larell Ware dazzled on the drums as he supported the night’s numbers with a thunderous backbeat.
If you want to enjoy one of the simple pleasures of life, then you need to get a ticket to see our local master musician as he interprets the classics of a legendary artist as only he can.
Rave On: The Music of Buddy Holly runs through June 28 in the parking lot of the Omaha Community Playhouse. Showtimes are Wed-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 6:30pm. Tickets cost $35 and can be purchased online at www.omahaplayhouse.com or by phone at 402-553-0800. This is a cashless event and reservations are required. CDC guidelines are being followed and parking spaces will be assigned upon arrival. Please do not arrive earlier than 90 minutes before showtime. The Omaha Community Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass Street in Omaha, NE.
Top photo provided by Analisa Swerczek