Originally published in The Lantern (June 4, 1991)

Squier ‘strokes’ for fans Sunday at the Newport

Back in the early ’80s, three performers were the essence of hard-rock: guitarists Billy Squier , Sammy Hagar and Ted Nugent.

Everyone knows that Hagar mellowed out and joined Van Halen . Nugent, after releasing a few very forgettable album , put together the supergroup Damn Yankees. Squier seemed to just drop out of sight.

Many people, including myself, thought Squier had packed away his guitar and retired to the suburbs of his hometown, Boston.

Try telling that to the hordes of sweating fans that packed the airconditionless Newport Music Hall Sunday night to catch Squier on tour in support of his latest release, “Creatures of Habit .”

As the house lights went down, Squier emerged from behind a stack of amplifiers at center stage and began to play the opening notes of “Lonely Is the Night .”

Squier was joined on stage by a very tight and professional veteran backup band consisting of Bobby Chouniard ( drums ), Mark Clarke ( bass ), Larry Mitchell ( guitars ) and Alan St. Jon (keyboards).

I don’t think the fans had a favorite song; they loved them all . As each song started, the arms of all the diehard Squier fans were raised and shouts of approval filled the Newport.

Columbus was the third stop for the “Creatures Tour,” although judging from the set list, this tour could have been the “Billy Squier’ s Greatest Hits Tour.”

The show featured flawless performances of Squier classics like “Everybody Wants You,” “My Kinda Lover,” “Don’t Say You Love Me,” “Rock Me Tonite,” and the song Squier is probably best known for, “The Stroke.”

Squier also played a few new songs from his “Creatures of Habit” album including “Facts of Life, ” “Lover,” and a song Squier said could be about something naughty or could be about something nice, “She Goes Down.” Hmm, I think you have a pretty good idea what this one is about.

As the lights went out after the last song, “Hollywood,” the fans were still hungry for more. Chants of “Billy … Billy … Billy” were so loud that I couldn’t even hear myself think.

Squier, who comes from the simple, no-frills school of rock, emerged from the backstage area minus the gray T-shirt he had been wearing throughout the show and played two more songs including “Young At Heart” from the new album.

After taking the obligatory bows the band retreated to the backstage area but were once again called back to the stage by the screams and chants of the fans.

“Badlands,” a song originally written and performed by Bruce Springsteen, was the first song performed during the second encore .

The evening’s festivities ended with the song “Don’t Say No,” and the band left the stage just as they had come on, with a giant roar from the crowd .

After the show Squier said he really enjoys playing smaller clubs because he can be eye to eye with his fans . He also said the response of the Columbus fans was definitely the best the band had received on this tour .

After witnessing the show, Squier has earned an all-new respect from me. Considering I thought Squier had dropped off the face of the Earth, it ‘ s good to see he is still alive and rocking.

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