Denver’s Labor Day weekend sizzled on Saturday night, with a sold-out show from southern rock legends Lynyrd Skynyrd, live at the beautiful Hudson Gardens.
The boys of Skynyrd hit town locked and loaded with favorites like What’s Your Name, Call Me The Breeze, and always spectacular That Smell. Fans and families of all ages packed the lawn with blankets and chairs to play air guitar and sing along to the radio staples, enjoying the spectacular garden scenery along with their rock n’ roll.
While Gary Rossington is the only original member of the band still playing, frontman Johnny Van Zant, brother of the late Ronnie, handles the vocals like he was born for this. Dedicating Simple Man to the troops and their families, he led the entire Gardens through the touching ballad with power, finesse, and genuine love.
Skynyrd’s famed triple guitar attack was also front and center, ripping through solos on Saturday Night Special and deep cut Mississippi Kid, before giving way to Peter Key’s piano for a heartfelt singalong on Tuesday’s Gone.
But the best energy was saved for last, first opened full throttle on perpetual hit Sweet Home Alabama, and then exploding out of control with the epicness of Free Bird. For those who have never seen a Skynyrd show, it’s almost impossible to fully convey the sheer euphoria of the Free Bird experience. Guitarist Rickey Medlocke has made a second career out of shredding his way through the thousands of rapidfire notes that form one of the greatest guitar solos of all time, and he does so with a fiery energy that could burn through steel, whipping the crowd into a frenzy as his shrieking guitar builds and blasts through climax after climax.
Even occasional wisps of rain showers couldn’t dampen the electricity of the live Lynyrd Skynyrd experience, and fans exiting the grounds after the triumphant Free Bird practically bounced their way towards the parking lot, guitar chords still echoing in their heads and broad smiles on their faces.
Another summer might be ending, but even as the cold season looms, the warmth of the South is only as far as your favorite Skynyrd record and tour dates from the band that continues to outlive their own legacy.