It was a cold and rainy Saturday night, but that didn’t stop anyone from enjoying a great show as Blue Oyster Cult rocked the Bergen Performing Arts Center in Englewood, NJ on Saturday April 21st, 2012.
The group played a 90 minute set to a raucous crowd, and the line-up consisted of guitarists Eric Bloom, Buck Dharma, Richie Castellano, drummer Jules Radino, and guest bassist Kasim Sulton (Utopia, The Blackhearts, Meat Loaf, Cheap Trick) who all delivered a powerful set that turned the clock back to the 1970s.
The night started with New Jersey hard rock act Scarlet Carson playing for about 30 minutes. Although their set was decent, the youthful band seemed very out of place with the middle-aged Blue Oyster Cult audience. Frontman Santino Hollywood tried to engage the crowd, even walking out into the crowd and greeting people, but the partition between the band and the audience was still difficult to break.
A little after 9 PM, Blue Oyster Cult hit the stage and kicked right into “The Red and the Black.” The crowd was engaged into the show right from the beginning, and the band fed off of the crowd’s energy throughout the whole night. Then, the rock anthem “Golden Age of Leather” started up with the audience members, particularly the very drunk, aiding in singing the harmonies in the beginning of the song. The band was definitely tight, and the vocal harmonies sounded perfect throughout the whole show.
Later on, “Burning for You” and “Shooting Shark” both had impressive solos by Dharma and Castellano. The singing from the crowd was incredibly loud during those songs with some people doing their own air-drumming or dancing in their seats. Yes, and one of them was this reporter. “Buck’s Boogie” was truly Buck Dharma’s time to shine with his extended guitar solo covering every zone on the fretboard which left the audience dazed. Castellano was excellent on the keys during that song as it really added to the 70s groove of the great jam song.
“Then Came the Last Days of May” gave the audience some time to relax and to just enjoy this awesome bluesy tune of theirs. Dharma and Castellano both shared solos during this song, and the contrast in their playing made hearing these two solos back-to-back quite an auditory experience.
“Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll” was very heavy that night with Bloom’s powerful vocals echoing throughout the theater as the crowd headbanged and grooved out. When everyone thunderously shouted the words “ROCK AND ROLL,’’ there was no denying that the crowd was still having a great time.
My favorite moment came when they played “Godzilla.” In the middle of the song, Bloom introduced bassist Kasim Sulton by naming some of the bands he has played in, and then the group all jammed to songs such as Utopia’s “Set Me Free” and Joan Jett and the Blackheart’s “I Love Rock and Roll.” They jammed on a Meat Loaf tune as well, but I didn’t recognize that song. Then, Kasim Sulton did a jaw-dropping bass solo before the band finished the song out.
When “Don’t Fear The Reaper” started playing, everyone took their air-cowbells out, and Bloom conducted the cowbell orchestra from the stage with his own. Everyone in the theater was singing their hearts out on that one. After that, the band came back for a two-song encore of “M.E. 262” and “Hot Rails To Hell” before calling it a night.
The small crowd size was only noticeable when the lights were on- guitarist Eric Bloom jokingly described the concert as a “private party” or a “bar mitzvah.” But when the lights went down and the band started playing, it was just all about the music that was playing onstage. All of the musicians were excellent that night, and you can tell that they were having a good time. The show had to end at some point though, and when the house lights came back on the nostalgia trip was over and everyone arrived back to the present. The crowd may have been small, but if you were there seeing the energy of the band and the crowd, you could have sworn that the theater was sold out.