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Phil Vassar brings party atmosphere to Northern Lights Theater

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Phil Vassar concert at Northern Lights Theater in Potawatomi Casino, Milwaukee, Wis.

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Phil Vassar performed the second of two consecutive sold-out shows at Northern Lights Theater in Milwaukee, Wis., on December 5. The intimate venue located at Potawatomi Casino offered a great setting for the country music artist who could easily call Wisconsin his second home. He performs again tonight in Madison at the Barrymore Theater.

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Taking the stage a little after 8 p.m., without an opening act, Vassar was greeted by a rambunctious crowd that eventually filled the aisle near the stage to dance the night away. He pounced upon his piano, playing "Baby Rocks" to get the night started, continuing with "That's When I Love You."

Smiling at the crowd, Vassar proclaimed his love for Milwaukee, then added, "We don't have a setlist, so call 'em out and we'll play it." A fan quickly yelled out "Joe and Rosalita" and Vassar immediately obliged. The night played out much like a house party. Vassar interacted with fans near the front, even celebrating one fan's birthday with an obligatory shot or two.

"We shot this video here during Summerfest earlier this year," said Vassar before breaking into his most recent single, "Love Is Alive." He later called out Milwaukee, noting "This song always makes me think about summer, even when it's 17 degrees out like tonight." That segued into "Six Pack Summer."

Phil left the stage for a quick break while his band took over toward the latter portion of the show. Longtime guitarist Jeff Smith sang portions of The Outfield's "Your Love" and Rick Springfield's "Jesse's Girl." Bassist Steve Cook took over for The Beatles' "All My Loving" before Vassar returned.

Vassar did perform one song from his latest album, "Noel," the original and entertaining "Santa's Gone Hollywood." Though he did stop briefly before the last verse when he gaffed the lyrics, he quickly recovered and completed the song while his bandmates gently chided him on stage. At least 40-50 fans purchased the CD after the show and Phil took time to sign their copies and pose for photos.

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