Concert Review Survivor Mohegan Sun Casino
Connecticut May 28, 2013 by Kath Galasso
Amidst the non-stop action of
a gambling venue, the Wolf Den in Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun Casino is
an area of relative calm. While the perimeters are clearly defined, the
venue itself is open to both the audience inside and the thousands of
people walking through the casino.
Shortly after 8 pm Survivor
took the stage for their fourth show since original lead singer Dave
Bickler joined forces with Jimi Jamison, the man who replaced him. The
question of the night would be whether the decision by founding band
member Frankie Sullivan to bring Bickler back, was a good one.
Not long after “Eye of the Tiger” became an anthem for having guts
and taking no prisoners, Bickler was forced to leave the band after
throat problems made it impossible to continue the heavy tour schedule.
In what was a relative no-brainer, Jamison freshly out of Cobra, was
hired to take over the lead vocal position. With Jamison, the band
recorded many of the hits in the Survivor catalog, and has been the
vocalist with the most tenure in the band. Now they would be sharing the
same stage and trading vocals
Opening up the set with “Feels Like Love,” Bickler led off the first
verse on the song he originated, with Jamison coming in on the next.
Both looked to be comfortable, and during the evening there were very
few moments where it seemed awkward or forced. As Bickler sang lead,
Jamison and Sullivan sang backup and there is a fine, natural blend in
their combined voices.
“Can’t Give It Up” brought Jamison to the front, and was the first
example of the tightness the band would display this night. Aside from
the change in vocalists, the core of Survivor has a few years together
under their belts, and it shows.
A crowd favorite and easily the most recognizable song up to this
point, “High On You” had a slightly faster tempo than the studio
version. With four songs done, the band took its first breather as
Sullivan told the story of how “Rockin’ Into The Night,” which he
co-wrote with former bandmate Jim Peterek, came to be a hit for .38
“It’s The Singer Not The Song” is indeed one of those songs where as
the lyrics say “if there’s magic in the music, it’s the singer not the
song.” Vocally, it can be a challenge, but not this night. Both Bickler
and Jamison managed the full range of notes and musical changes, leading
Jamison to remark at the end of the song, “this is fun.”
Going beyond the lead singers, the band worked well together. Sullivan
has become more disciplined in his guitar solos, and is in fact, a
really good guitarist. His fingers move quickly as his eyes look toward
the sky letting his precision and experience shine through. Drummer Marc
Droubay, who has been with Survivor nearly from its inception, plays
tight, hard and focused. Keeping up with Droubay in keeping the beat is
bassist Billy Ozzello. Talented, and animated onstage, Ozzello lets his
presence be known. Multi-instrumentalist Walter Tolentino has created an
exquisite keyboard introduction into the best known ballad of the band.
Alone on stage, he creates a tranquil segway, leading the way for
Jamison to shine on “The Search Is Over.” And on this night, he shined
“Summer Nights” brought Bickler up front again and featured some well
worked harmonies. When one vocalist is not singing lead, he takes his
mic stand and fades into the background, giving full stage to the lead.
It works well and creates a better focal point for the crowd.
As the singers took a break, this night’s jam started with a little
bit of Hendrix. “Voodoo Child” was the starting point for an interesting
give and take between Sullivan and Droubay. As it ended, the familiar
melody of “I Can’t Hold Back” began. Having a real good night, Jamison
vocal was powerful in both strength and feeling.
The evening ended as it always does with the song which marks the
Survivor legacy, “Eye Of The Tiger.” As the original vocalist Bickler,
led it off then exchanged verses with Jamison.
The answer to the question… yes, the dual vocalists work. Jamison and
Bickler trade off each other pretty well, seem to be comfortable with
each other onstage at this point, and it gives them each a breather.
Still feeling their way through adding an additional member, the band
after only four shows, is definitely working in the right direction.
With Bickler returning, it opens up the entire Survivor catalog. While
that is a good thing for hard-core fans, time constraints mean they
won’t be playing every hit. However, on this night, no one seemed to