Pure Prairie League/Poco 9-24-2005
Pure Prairie/ Poco Young Again at Cerritos
By Glen Creason
Over the years pop music has passed through many a phase, including cow punk, ska, doo-wop, motown, psychedelic rock, disco, grunge, glitter, new-wave and much more. Almost forgotten in the mists of the mid-70’s along with earth shoes, streaking, mutton chops and pet rocks is Country-rock. Country rock, while faded a bit by father time is experiencing a resurgence hereabouts and who better to put a fresh paint on it than Pure Prairie League and Poco who held the banner aloft those three decades ago. The craft began back with the great “Buffalo Springfield” band in the 60’s then sailed on with groups like the Byrds and Eagles until encountering the rocks of New Wave in the 80’s. We probably won’t say “do your own thing,” pull out the puka shells or don our cuffed baggies again but judging by the big, highly-enthusiastic crowd at Cerritos Country-Rock is ready to roll again. Poconuts follow the band and are die-hards who still holler requests and recharge at the lobby bar with the best of them. One this night the Performing Arts Center was part arena and part roadhouse.
The co-headliners were Poco and Pure Prairie League who demonstrated passionate and extremely clean sounds blending the power of rock with the twang of country. The principals have a lot less hair and some wisdom lines around the face but their fingers seem to have kept pace with the rock and roll times. Both bands were excellent in their execution with Fats Kaplan spicing up the already fine PPL sound with his pedal steel alongside, thundering bassist Mike Reilly, rhythm guitarist Curtis Wright and superb drummer Rick Schell. The heart and soul of the band however is the rather serious Craig Fuller who sings and writes more prolifically than he grins.
PPL prepared the house for a long night of country rock by playing an extensive first set marked by spirited versions of “Kansas City Southern,” “I’ll Change Your Flat Tire, Merle,” “Pickin’ to Beat the Devil,” “Misery Train” and a wonderful, accordion iced “Cajun Girl” in homage to the victims of Katrina. There was an interesting and satisfying nod to Lowell George of “Little Feat” with a reading of his little chestnut “Six Feet of Snow” that hit the spot. However, the crowd was beside themselves for the drag race to the finish on “Two Lane Highway” and the glorious “Amy.” If there was any doubt about Country Rock still feeling a pulse you could have seen several thousand pumping in the hall at this point. Poco finished the show and kept the petal pushed near the metal belying their many moons of experience on stage. Instead of going through the motions they seemed utterly delighted to be giving the Poconuts just what they wanted and they rocked mighty hard from the opening shots of “Under the Gun” through the sweetness of an extended “Rose of Cimarron” toward “Call It Love peppered by Paul Cotton’s red-hot guitar riffs. Eppervescent Rusty Young fronted the band and kept it light but lively. The high moments were most certainly reached with a back to back jack of “Magnolia” and “Heart of the Night” that had the “kids” of the 70’s rocking into the twenty-first century.