Review - Sammy Hagar's 6th Annual Acoustic-4-A-Cure Benefit @ the Fillmore (5/15/19)

Sammy Hagar & Nancy Wilson @ the Acoustic for a Cure Benefit Concert (Photo: Kevin Keating)
Sammy Hagar & Nancy Wilson @ the Acoustic-4-a-Cure Benefit Concert (Photo: Kevin Keating)

For a sixth year in a row, Sammy Hagar pulled together his closest friends for the Acoustic-4-A-Cure benefit concert at the Fillmore to support the Pediatric Cancer Program at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. Joining the red rocker this year was: Tom Johnston of The Doobie Brothers, Chad Kroeger of Nickelback, the legendary Joe Satriani on guitar, Rick Springfield, Nancy Wilson of Heart, and his Circle bandmates, Michael Anthony, Jason Bonham, and Vic Johnson. Lukas Nelson was originally on the bill as well, but came down with bronchitis and bailed out at the last minute. Filling his shoes was the return of Bob Weir, who also performed at last years’ benefit.

Sammy Hagar @ the Acoustic for a Cure Benefit Concert (Photo: Kevin Keating)
Sammy Hagar @ the Acoustic-4-a-Cure Benefit Concert (Photo: Kevin Keating)

And just like last year, the event started shortly after 8pm with a short intro by Dr. Michael Anderson (President of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital) about the work of Dr. Jean Nakamura, and the impact that the money raised is having on their Pediatric Cancer Program. On that feel-good note, Sammy joined them onstage proudly wearing his UCSF t-shirt and that infectious smile of his... you could tell he was clearly excited to start the night. He made a few brief comments before asking his friends to join him onstage for the opening number, a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” featuring Satriani on guitar, Bonham on drums, Michael Anthony on bass, Nancy on guitars and vocals, and of course Sammy. And as you'll see in the video below, Satriani's finger-work blew us away! It was an impressive display to start the night.

After that opening number, Sammy gave command of the stage to Tommy Johnston, who kept Jason, Joe & Michael with him, but also brought out his daughter Lara for backing vocal duties. Tommy then ran through a few classic Doobie Brothers hits including “Listen to the Music” for which Sammy & Nancy came back out to help out on vocals… and I found myself thinking about how timeless these songs are – and the fact that Tommy’s voice and guitar sounded great. This was a great start to the night, and as Tommy concluded his set, Sammy once again introduced the next performer of the night, Rick Springfield -- and the women in the audience started screaming. Rick went solo for “Love Somebody” and “Jessie’s Girl”, but was joined by Sammy, John, Vic, and Mikey on a cover of Sammy’s “I’ve Done Everything for You.”

Rick Springfield, Jason Bonham, and Sammy Hagar @ the Acoustic for a Cure Benefit Concert (Photo: Kevin Keating)
Rick Springfield, Jason Bonham, and Sammy Hagar @ the Acoustic-4-a-Cure Benefit Concert (Photo: Kevin Keating)

Next up would have been Lukas Nelson, but Sammy’s neighbor, Bob Weir, graciously reprised his role as elder statesman for a second year running and led off his set with “Mama, Don’t Let your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys” – a duet with Sammy. He sang his next two tracks solo and although I’ve never been the biggest Grateful Dead fan, my appreciation for Bob continues to grow each time I hear him play.

Sammy Hagar & Bob Weir @ the Acoustic for a Cure Benefit Concert (Photo: Kevin Keating)
Sammy Hagar & Bob Weir @ the Acoustic-4-a-Cure Benefit Concert (Photo: Kevin Keating)

Before Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger could take the stage for his 3-song set, Sammy asked Joe, John, and Mike to come back on stage for a Chickenfoot track, “Sexy Little Thing.” John Bonham throughout the night performed admirably on a small Roland SPD-SX trigger kit and Roland HandSonic HPD-20 digital hand percussion controller, but honestly, without a real drum kit, I felt he was limited with what he could do behind the ‘drums’. Having said that, the small size of the gear has got to make traveling and set-up so much easier!

Jason Bonham @ the Acoustic for a Cure Benefit Concert (Photo: Kevin Keating)
Jason Bonham @ the Acoustic-4-a-Cure Benefit Concert (Photo: Kevin Keating)

After “Sexy Little Thing”, Sammy hung around on stage and introduced Chad Kroeger, although we learned from Chad that it was actually Guy Fieri who was meant to do the introduction. Chad joked how he wanted two intros and had Guy come out onstage where he proceeded to joke with Sammy about stealing his thunder, and passed around a bottle of Sammy’s Santo Mezquila for shots all around. If you’re a Nickleback fan, Chad not only sounded great, but was a riot as he jumped from the scripted setlist to “build-a-band”… I think if I were Chad I would have done the exact same thing too! Instead of playing solo acoustic, he chose to assemble a world class backing band that included: Satriani on guitar, Michael Anthony on bass, and John Bonham on drums, and they settled on CCR’s “Born on the Bayou.” After that spur of the moment treat, the backing back left the stage for Chad to get back to the regularly scheduled program of just he and his acoustic guitar to play through Nickelback's “Rockstar.”

Take a look at the fan-shot video below for Chad’s 'Build-a-Band' and “Born on the Bayou."

Next up was the amazing Nancy Wilson who was joined by Lara Johnston for backing vocal duties. Nancy started off with the classic Heart track “These Dreams” which then led into an amazing version of Paul Simon’s “The Boxer.”

Closing out the night was of course, Sammy’s current band, The Circle; made up of Vic Johnson, John Bonham, and Michael Anthony. Sammy joked how throughout the night everyone was playing hits that everyone recognized and that they were now out there closing out the night playing new tracks from The Circle’s recent album, Space Between. The band rifled through “No Worries”, “Bottom Line”, and “Can’t Hang” before closing the show with “Hey Hey (without Greed)” and by inviting everyone out on stage to join them.

Michael Anthony @ the Acoustic for a Cure Benefit Concert (Photo: Kevin Keating)
Michael Anthony @ the Acoustic-4-a-Cure Benefit Concert (Photo: Kevin Keating)

For a sixth year in a row, Sammy’s Acoustic-4-A-Cure was a resounding success, with another sell-out crowd and a line-up that I’m guessing will telegraph to the new season of Sammy’s other venture, ‘Rock and Roll Road Trip’, of which, the new season just started airing again a couple of weeks ago on AXS TV.

Nancy Wilson, Rick Springfield, Tom Johnston, Sammy Hagar, Bob Weir (Photo: Kevin Keating)
Nancy Wilson, Rick Springfield, Tom Johnston, Sammy Hagar, Bob Weir (Photo: Kevin Keating)

For those of you reading this wondering if there’ll be a 7th go-round, you shouldn’t have to worry! Sammy mentioned that he made a 10-year commitment to Dr. Nakamura, so we’ve got at least a few more years left to go. Let’s hope he’s able to extend it way beyond and keep the A4AC here in San Francisco at the Fillmore for years to come! Be sure to check out the amazing work that the UCSF’s Pediatric Cancer Program’s doing here.

Thanks for reading and be sure to follow us across our social feeds for more pictures, concert announcements and news here: Acoustic-4-A-Cure album on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Sammy Hagar & The Circle Setlist Acoustic-4-A-Cure 2019, Space Between Tour 2019

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