From left, Eric Bloom, Richie Castellanos, Buck Dharma, and Kazim Sultan drenched in white light at the Emerald Queen Casino. Saturday marked my third time seeing Blue Oyster Cult.
Saturday my three friends from school and I trundled off to the Emerald Queen Casino to see Blue Oyster Cult. BOC comes to Tacoma each year and regularly plays to a full house of mostly overage, overweight, balding fans, and/or their consorts. I occasionally wonder if some will survive the night.
This is my third time seeing BOC, and I’ve written about each of the concerts. Version 3.0 was delightful and different from the previous two iterations. Both of the prior events were focused on making sure songs were played. This show was more about showing off Buck Dharma’s chops with lengthy improvisational jams. It was a nice departure, demonstrating the lead guitarist’s considerable chops.
Buck seems so at ease up on stage, like he was born with a magical gift that he is sharing out to audience as simple as pouring water in a cup and passing it around. There is no pain-induced grimace on his face, nothing to suggest this is difficult stuff at all. No matter how long or fast, or challenging the passage, Buck looks like he could just as easily be sitting in a rocking chair with his guitar or his dog in his lap, passing the tunes or the satisfied smiles on his dog’s lap to the assembled multitude. He makes it look so simple.
The show started a little late because so many folks were slow getting from the parking lot, through the crowded casino and into the event center. More about this later. But that didn’t prevent the band from playing a full set and a solid six song encore. The total running time for the show was well over two hours.
As earlier stated, this show was a little different. Less emphasis on songs, but the favorites were definitely played. “The Reaper,” “Me-262,” “Dominance and Submission,” “The Golden Age of Leather,” “Godzilla,””Hot Rails to Hell” and “Cities Aflame With Rock and Roll” are the most obvious well known BOC songs that were featured. The boys also trotted out “I Love the Night,” which is a brilliant song from Spectres. It’s one of the very few BOC ballads, but lyrically and musically is matchless.
If the show had any flaws it was the fact that it very much seemed the Buck Dharma show. Less of the spotlight on Bloom, who runs the show. We’d come to really enjoy guitarist Richie Castellano and his opportunity to solo. Castellano came out of music school to join the band, but don’t let his training fool you; he can really tear it up. The rhythm section of drummer Jules Radino and bassist Kazim Sultan keep things rumbling along. But they all seemed to fade a bit into the woodwork.
Seeing shows at the Emerald Queen is problematic. We sat in the middle of the hall. Everyone sits at the same level, so seeing the stage is challenging. On nights with a full house, you’re likely trying to see through someone’s noggin. Saturday’s show seemed particularly noxious. Lots of late customers, and then the idiots sitting in front of us were constantly shifting seats, contributing to my feeling of motion sickness. As in, “If you people can’t sit still I’m gonna puke!” All I can say is I’ve seen three different BOC shows at the EQC, and in certain respects my level of enjoyment was impacted as much by what I had to put up with from those sitting around me as the show itself. Not sure there will be a number four, but I love the band’s music enough that I wouldn’t rule it out.