APRIL 9, 2008
Boulder Theater, Boulder CO
Jock Bartley Original Firefall Lead Guitarist, vocals
Steven Weinmeister lead vocals & guitars
Bil Hopkins bass & vocals
Sandy Ficca drums
WITH SPECIAL GUEST APPEARANCES BY:
Mark Andes Original Firefall Bass & vocals
David Muse Original Firefall Sax, flute & keyboards
Larry Burnett Original Firefall lead vocals, guitar
Joe Lala Original Firefall studio & touring percussionist
On Sunday, April 6, 2008, the out-of-town FIREFALL original members started arriving at the Denver’s DIA Airport: Mark Andes from Houston, Larry Burnett from Washington D.C., David Muse from a Marshall Tucker Band gig the night before in Corpus Christi, Joe Lala from Tampa and long-time current FIREFALL drummer, Sandy Ficca from Oregon. Also original Producer, Jim Mason, came in from Tampa, Fla. to celebrate and lend a hand. Joining in with the Colorado guys, Jock Bartley, Steven Weinmeister and Bil Hopkins - the whole crew was assembled. The springtime weather was gorgeous, in the 60s and 70s. After check-in at the hotel in Boulder, which looked directly upon the famous Flatirons and the majestic Rockies, most everyone went out to dinner to get re-acquainted, reminisce and walk the Pearl St. Mall. For some, they hadn’t seen each other in thirty years!
Rehearsals started the next day in downtown Denver, CO. at Platypi Soundstage & Studios. The energy was there right from the start - the joining of the current 2008 Firefall band, together for the last 20 years, with the original band members from 1976. One three-day peroid of ‘REUNION’, honoring and healing, remembering and reliving. and of course, having some extreme musical fun. It was a gathering back of those members who had created and lived that amazing Firefall comet ride to stardom between 1976-1979. Even Rick Roberts, original lead vocalist & songwriter of FIREFALL's biggest hits, visited the practice - his poor health unfortunately would keep him from performing, but he too, joined into the gathering. The energy was always high and they worked hard on a number of rough spots or on songs that a few did not yet know. They even learned a new song, and within a half hour, in the process of perfecting the intertwining musical and vocal parts, they re-discovered the absolute best of what Firefall had been so long ago – the creative collective spontaneous process of a band making new music. Everyone in the room felt it in those moments. By the end of the second night, they were ready and the music was sounding good. The stage was set.
In typical Colorado early spring fashion, the weather went from 80 degrees on Tuesday down to the mid-30s on Wednesday, April 9th. The Boulder Theater was ready and a sell-out crowd would wait in the rain & intermittent snow. The dress rehearsal and soundcheck started and finished late; the 6-man film crew (8 cameras total), audio recording crew, the stage and lighting crews were all scrambling around, getting everything set. The band went over the last few songs, low-key and relaxed. At 5:30 PM the VIP Guests were allowed in for a special 'meet & greet' after soundcheck: contest winners, dignitaries, families, the closest of friends – over 100 people mingled with the Firefall band members, past and present. The guys ate dinner (a Cajun buffet) and had chair massages downstairs in the dressing rooms, which not surprisingly, always seemed to have too many people in them. But it was great fun and conversation. In the line of fans stretching around the block, people under umbrellas and wearing winter coats felt the excitement and were ready! It was almost time.
Doors to the historic Boulder Theater opened at 7:00 PM and the mad rush was on. To find a great place to stand up front, to maybe, just maybe get a seat off to the side, to buy a T-shirt or CD while the selection was good.. or maybe be able to say hi to one or more of the FF members as they’d sometimes pass. A lot of adoring fans got to tell their favorite Firefall member “How much you guys and your music meant to me back then.”
Just after 8:00 PM the MC, comedian and Animal Planet’s TV Veterinarian, Kevin Fitzgerald, walked on stage and began talking to and joking with the crowd. Ahh, the old days in Boulder with Firefall; what amazing times those mid-to-late 1970s were. He told a few funny stories and recalled a few of Boulder County’s famous musical residents of the time: Stephen Stills, Chris Hillman, Richie Furay, Dan Folgelberg, Willie Nelson, Caribou Studios and many others.. and young FIREFALL in the early days, about to go make waves on the national and international stage. Then he introduced lead guitarist and band leader, Jock Bartley, who then introduced his Firefall mates of the past 18-20 years, drummer sandy Ficca, bassist Bil Hopkins and lead vocalist/guitarist, Steven Weinmeister. Then original sax, flute, harmonica and keyboard player, David Muse and world-renowned percussionist, Joe Lala were introduced. These six played the first four songs, beginning with ‘It Doesn’t Matter.’ After the extended ‘Sweet & Sour,’ original bassist Mark Andes and original lead vocalist/songwriter/guitarist, Larry Burnett joined the band on stage to a wild ovation. The first song they played together was 'So Long;' the crowd pushed closer against the stage. The next song was Burnett’s classic, 'Cinderella,' and the crowd went even more nuts. After the beautiful ballad, 'Someday Soon' and just before playing ‘Just Remember I Love You,’ Jock introduced Rick Roberts, who walked slowly out on stage with a cane and stepped up to the mic to briefly address the packed house. (It was Rick who suggested naming the band FIREFALL back in 1974.) Also original drummer, the late Michael Clarke, was acknowledged and fondly remembered. The first set ended with the classics: 'Strange Way' and 'Mexico.' The energy on stage and in the crowd was past electric; it was off the charts.
The second set began with Jock Bartley's new song, 'Walk More Softly,' a topical ‘green’ song about ‘treating each other better’ and taking much better care of the Earth than we have been. The tune started at the merchandise table in the lobby, an autograph signing that turned into acoustic guitars and singing. As half of the group strolled through the parting crowd toward the stage singing the refrain, the rest of the band on stage kicked in. The second set had started in a rockin’ and unexpected fashion. 'Livin' Aint Livin' smoked with spot-on five-man harmonies and David on saxophone - and next, Steven sang Rick’s lovely classic, 'Colorado.’ Then Jock's son, Jamey Bartley (who at two years old had also fallen asleep in a guitar case backstage at Red Rocks) joined the band for two of Larry's rockers, 'Get You Back' and 'Lips.' Jamey played drums on a number of ‘07 Firefall gigs when Sandy was in England. With Sandy back, the band ended off the set with 'You Are The Woman,' and second versions of 'Strange Way' and 'Mexico.' The encore songs were 'Goodbye I Love You' and the controversial ‘Sharpshootin' At The Senator’ (a song that Atlantic Records would not allow on a Firefall LP back in the 70s). With the crowd delirious in front of them, the eight-man FIREFALL ‘REUNION’ band took their final bows.
The night was magical and exciting, a historic homecoming of one of the top groups of the 1970s, on stage together for the first time in over thirty years. Firefall fans left with huge smiles on their faces, the wonderful music still in the ears, so many visual moments caught in their memories. COMING SOON: the live CD and later, the DVD. And who knows, this one-time FIREFALL ‘REUNION’ musical event.. just might happen again sometime!
All Reunion Photos by STEVE CRECILIUS - © 2008