A Swell Bunch of Guys

Saturday, April 7, 2007
The Brewery, Raleigh NC
Cirkus 25th Anniversary Show

Wow! That pretty much sums up the sentiment from all who were there. Why these guys never got a shot at the big time remains open to question even today, all these years later. If you were there — thank you! If you werenít, well, you should have been. 25th Anniversary? Itís a matter of some debate and semantics — if you count from when the band started in 1978, youíre looking at 29 years; if you count from when the band quit playing in 1983, itís 24 years. 25 is such a nice, round number though so weíre going with that. Letís go back to the beginning…

Sunday, April 1: Most of the guys gather for the first rehearsal. Kelly had flown in from Seattle on Saturday night. Itís a relaxed atmosphere and although one player is still missing, itís apparent that itís going to be a good week.

Monday, April 2: Sean arrives from Atlanta around 3 p.m. and is met at the hotel by Kelly. Straight on to practice where the full band convenes for the first time since the 2003 reunion. Weíre excited to have Rodger with us this time since he had to miss the last one for work-related reasons. Practice goes exceedingly well — itís obvious that the guys spent a fair amount of time practicing before ever getting to Raleigh.

Tuesday, April 3: No rehearsal today since Steve is busy, busy, busy with his normal stuff. Rodger is working and Randy is doing his usual thing; Kelly and Sean explore Raleigh and marvel over their luxurious accommodations at the Super 8.

Wednesday, April 4: The Nutty Norwegians, Terje and Toro, arrive in Raleigh for this portion of their wandering tour of the Southern US while Kelly and Sean are touring the NC Museum of Natural History. Practice goes well, again, and that evening Kelly, Sean, Terje, and Toro go watch Steve do his solo acoustic thing where they are once again knocked out by Steveís vocal prowess as well as his uncanny ability to make anything work acoustically. "Hell Bent for Leather", anyone?

Thursday, April 5: Itís getting dang cold. Practice goes well yet again and the closer we get to showtime, the more jacked we get.

Friday, April 6: Final rehearsal day. The band convenes at 1:00 and whizzes through the setlist and we pronounce ourselves ready. Then itís time to pack up and get ready for…

Party time! Late afternoon has been spent retrieving old friends from the airport and welcoming family members from Atlanta. Everyone arrives at the clubhouse at Steveís subdivision for a gathering of the clan, as it were. Turns out that it was quite an extended gathering — not only was the Norwegian contingent accounted for but two old friends and bandmates of Steve, Kelly and Randy appeared: Ben Mullen and Alan Cohen from their Jubal days. Lots of folks were there to witness Steve, in his element as ringmaster, managing to talk most everybody from either band into singing karaoke, including Terje who sang a rousing rendition of "Rocking In The Free World" with Sean. I think the only band member who didnít sing anything was Kelly, and well, thereís a reason for that. We tried, but he declined, and itís probably better that way. (insert smilyface here) As Cirkus parties go, this one was really, REALLY tame but weíre older and hopefully wiser nowadays and besides…our kids were in attendance so we sort of had to be on our best behavior. Fun was had by all.

Finally, itís Saturday, and after a day of pent-up anxiety, itís time to head for the club for set up and soundcheck. We run through 2 tunes for soundcheck and see big smiles all around, so weíre pretty sure itís going to be a good night…

Showtime! We hit the stage about 9:45, Mark Grossmann announces us as STILL the Greatest Show on Earth! and for the next 2+ hours, the club is filled with loud, nasty, old-school rock. The guys have really come to play and do so as if theyíve got something to prove — which I suppose in a way they do — they might be older now but they can still rock the socks off of anyone lucky enough to venture into the club. Randy and Kelly supply a thundering rock-solid core, Rodger and Sean are blazing on their respective guitars, and Steve — well, what can you say about one of the best singers in the business? The band is kicking ass and taking names and proving once again why they were one bad-ass band back in the day because even now, all these years later, theyíre still the baddest-asses on the block. The setlist is as follows, although only one of us was smart enough to print up a setlist for the show and it got left at the club somewhere therefore itís in no particular order since weíre old and feeble and canít remember the order:

  • Bet Your Ass
  • Not In Love
  • California Man
  • Bad Boy Boogie
  • Peter Pan
  • Baby
  • Somebody Get Me a Doctor
  • Go Down
  • Betty Lou
  • Back With a Bullet
  • Breaking the Law
  • NIB
  • I Like It
  • Tonight
  • You Wonít See Me Again
  • Slow Down
  • Paint It Black
  • Surrender
  • Sin City
  • Dog Eat Dog
  • Tie Your Mother Down
  • Money
  • Iím So Tired
  • One Foot in Hell

Lots of friends and family were in attendance and we thank each and every one of them profusely for letting their husbands/dads/significant others go play for a week and allowing us to once again share the bonds of brotherhood Ďcause thatís what it is. The chemistry between the band members is such that, even after all these years, weíre still capable of making some mighty fine noise and we certainly achieved that this night. All of the band members sensed early on that we were in fine form as did the attendees. One noted that "yíall sounded as good or better than Iíve ever seen you, way better than the Lincoln show"…okay, it was Seanís wife and she is biased, but since sheís seen us probably a couple hundred times, we suppose she knows what she is talking about and besides, sheís never been particularly shy about telling Sean when something sucks. Several folks commented on how tight we were despite relatively limited rehearsal time and one noted how much the band chemistry really shows.

Huge thanks go out to Jimmy Bailey who set us up with rehearsal space and took care of us during the week; Jimmyís friend Robert and his family who supplied us with said rehearsal space and put up with our racket during the week (and thanks for faithfully coming to see us all those years ago, too!); the award-winning soundman Mark Grossmann who made us sound extra good just like always.

Thanks to Tom at the Brewery for letting us have a place to play; Jason Patterson for the best set of drums in the world; and finally, anyone and everyone who came to see us.

If you were there, you know how "on" the band was…if you werenít there, again, you should have been. We had a blast.