Saturday, April 14, 2018

Concert review: 38 Special satisfies with pop hits at Azalea Fest

Concert review: 38 Special satisfies with pop hits at Azalea Fest: "The band 38 Special is like one of those actors whose face and work you know -- and like -- but whose name you can’t quite place.

With their solid Azalea Festival set on Friday night, however, the group, which rose to fame in the ’80s by putting a pop gloss on driving Southern rock, served up a reminder of why you know as many of their songs as you do, even if you didn’t know you know them.

38 Special isn’t a flashy band -- an uncharitable music snob might call them bland – and while the swirly colored lighting on the festival’s main stage was impressive, the group delivered nothing like the aural and visual feast fellow ’80s icons Duran Duran brought last year. But 38 Special played the hits, and the crowd -- which included aging ’80s kids (myself included), curious seniors and a surprising number of millennials who sang along to the words of such 30-year-old hits as the endlessly tuneful pop anthem of attachment “Caught Up in You” -- left satisfied if not blown away.

Singer and guitarist Don Barnes, the band’s last remaining original member, has never been the most charismatic frontman, and his exhortations to the crowd on Friday felt a little rote, although he did got caught up in the energy of the festival audience by the end. But his voice – pleasant and knife-sharp – sounds as good as ever, and the man certainly knows how to write a hook.

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