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Sammy Hagar Rocks The 7th Annual Beauty of the Bonzer Benefit

US Airways Center - Phoenix, AZ, United States - September 15, 2007

by David Svendsen, photos by Lauri Svendsen

Sammy HagarThe 7th Annual Beauty of the Bonzer was held on Sept. 15th, 2007 at the US Airways Center in Phoenix . This is an extraordinary benefit event that helps five of Arizona's charities - the Alzheimer's Association, For Those Without A Voice (established to improve the quality of life for children and animals that suffer from grim situations beyond their control), The Real Gift Foundation (a volunteer-based organization whose mission and purpose is dedicated to providing the necessary aid and assistance to children of homeless families), Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center, and the Special Olympics of Arizona.

And who better to play at this event than Sammy Hagar?

The Red Rocker was in fine form throughout the entire performance, bringing his Wabos and beach theme party to the desert. Makes you want to tell the boss you're going to Cabo for awhile. Starting the show off with Sam I Am, Sammy emerges through an extremely large red and white Dr. Seuss hat, carrying what looks like one of those guns that sporting events use to shoot t-shirts out in to the crowd. Instead of shirts, a massive amount of confetti flies out, creating a dizzying display of red, white, blue and yellow clouds both on the stage and about 20 feet in to the crowd (seems how this is a charity event, the floor of the venue is filled with a few dozen round tables where contributors are sitting). The band continues on with Girl Gets Around, Shaka Doobie, and There's Only One Way (to Rock). The mixed crowd, which seems to be made up mostly of charity goers and people who may have been in their twenties when Montrose released their first disc, was enjoying every minute of the high energy performance. The infectious grooves of Sammy's tunes mixed with his laid back attitude always moves a party along.

Sammy's setlist is the usual staple of hits, and one comical addition was the Beastie Boys' cover of Fight For Your Right. A surprising number of people sang along as Sammy and a crew member "accessorized" bassist Mona with a side fitting baseball cap, black shades, oversized chain necklace and a "Mona is really a rapper" intro from Sammy. As Mona was delivering the thunderous bottom end, the only thing she could do was smile and laugh. That in and of itself is what makes every Sammy Hagar show. If you can't have fun at a Sammy show, you got issuesz

The song that seemed to draw the biggest response of the night was Mas Tequila, and Sammy takes his usual stroll through the crowd that is placed behind the drums. I think he literally shook the hands or high five'd each and every person there, all two or three dozen of them. With the energy he dispenses at every show, it's hard to believe the man is turning the big 6-0 in a couple of weeks. If that is what tequila does for you, I need to lay off the Jager and give it try. And speaking of Tequila, what Sammy Hagar show would be complete without the beautiful bikini clad "waitresses"?

Sammy HagarClosing the night was an acoustic performance of Dreams which was fitting considering the night's charity event.

Openers Cheap Trick put on a solid 85 minute performance that seemed to be mostly lost on the crowd. Not many songs were recognized, and the band only seemed to draw strong cheers, rather than polite applause, when they played I Want You To Want Me, and Surrender. While Robin Zander sang the largest majority of the songs (bassist Tom Peterson stepped up to the mic for one) it was guitarist Rick Nielsen who proved to be the frontman for the night. Announcing each song, and controlling the between song banter with the crowd, Rick at one point informed the crowd that this was their 5,555th performance in their careers. One of the hardest working bands in showbiz, indeed. While I was disappointed that I didn't get to see his trademark checkerboard five neck guitar, it was still entertaining to see a change of guitars for every song - not one was played twice. Must be a bitch being his roadie!

The tour continues throughout the next couple of months in fall 2007, and if you get a chance to go, you won't regret it. Think of it as a slice of summer during the fall.