Music Lounge

Published on March 25th, 2022 | by Darren Paltrowitz


A Look At The “Sammy Hagar & Friends” Residency In Las Vegas (Video Included)

With more than 75 million albums sold worldwide and a Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame induction in 2007, Van Halen’s record of achievement is hard to top. However, Van Halen is far from singer Sammy Hagar’s only notable accomplishment. Also having earned RIAA certifications with Montrose, Chickenfoot and his decades-long solo career, Hagar is in rare company when comes to long-term success in music. Hagar is also the founder of multiple brands within the food and spirits industries, including the Cabo Wabo Cantina, Santo (with Guy Fieri) and Sammy’s Beach Bar Cocktail Co.

Via an inventive concert residency, Sammy Hagar is currently bringing his signature beach vibes to The STRAT Theater at Las Vegas’ Stratosphere hotel and casino. Produced by industry leader SPI Entertainment and Hagar’s manager Tom Consolo of TC Management, the initial announced shows of Sammy Hagar & Friends sold out in under 2 hours from going on-sale. And I had the pleasure of catching one of these shows on March 23, 2022; video from the event is embedded below.

Most artists performing over 90 minutes often have the troubling scenario of filling a set with material that concert-goers will want to hear. In other words, they don’t have enough hits to fill their allotted time. In the case of Hagar — who was backed by former Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony, drummer Jason Bonham and long-time guitarist Vic Johnson — he has the opposite to deal with, by way of having more than 90 minutes of material that charted. Fortunately, the show I saw was a mix of hits from his solo and band careers, with a few covers mixed in; Anthony took the lead vocal mic for an energized and unexpected take on Van Halen’s classic “Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love.”

Hits aside, the highlight of the evening was arguably Hagar’s surprise guest: Trombone Shorty. Hagar’s Vegas residency often pulls in interesting names for surprise appearances — prior participants have included Rick Springfield, The Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir and Ratt’s Stephen Pearcy — and Trombone Shorty was someone who Hagar first encountered via filming for his AXS TV series Rock & Roll Road Trip. The two took turns singing lead on Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition,” before also performing together on an interesting take on Bob Dylan’s “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35.” These two particular performances served as a reminder of how versatile Michael Anthony, Jason Bonham and Vic Johnson all are as instrumentalists, proving that rock is not the only genre they can all do well within.

Altogether, Sammy Hagar & Friends proved to be one of the better concerts I have seen in recent years. Hagar and band are able to pull off the rare feat of being musically-tight, while also seasoned performers to the point that they can improvise, extend songs, interact with fans while mid-song and regularly-circulate around the stage. This is the rare residency concert I would dare see twice, and hope it is still going during for my next trip to Las Vegas in 2022 (dates TBD on that one).

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About the Author

Darren Paltrowitz is a New York resident with over 20 years of entertainment industry experience. He began working around the music business as a teenager, interning for the manager of his then-favorite band Superdrag. Since then, he has worked with a wide array of artists including OK Go, They Might Be Giants, Mike Viola, Tracy Bonham, Loudness, Rachael Yamagata, and Amanda Palmer. Darren's writing has appeared in dozens of outlets including the New York Daily News, Inquisitr, The Daily Meal, The Hype Magazine, All Music Guide, Guitar World,, Businessweek, Chicago Tribune, L.A. Times, and the Jewish Journal. Beyond being "Editor At Large" for The Hype Magazine, Darren is also the host of weekly "Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz" series, which airs on dozens on television and digital networks. He has also co-authored 2 published books, 2018's "Pocket Change: Your Happy Money" (Book Web Publishing) and 2019's "Good Advice From Professional Wrestling" (6623 Press), and co-hosts the world's only known podcast about David Lee Roth, "The DLR Cast."

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