As the Penn's Peak crowd waited for Randy Bachman and C.F. "Fred" Turner to take the stage Thursday night, a video played on the screens showing two huge tractor-trailers colliding, with one marked "Bachman" and the other "Turner".
That kind of power-packed wallop is just the kind of impact the Bachman and Turner reunion produced once they came onstage and began their hit-filled trip down memory lane.
As the two main namesake cogs in Bachman-Turner Overdrive, the duo churned out more than their share of hard-rocking radio smashes during the early and mid-1970's before their high-performance machine began to stall out.
It had been years since they performed together, but there are just some things in life that are better in pairs, as the newly dubbed Bachman and Turner (the "Overdrive" name is tied up in legal wranglings) are demonstrating as their tour is rolling out.
"We are back to rock you," said Bachman at one point, and there was no doubt about that, not from the opening notes of rock and road anthem "Roll on Down the Highway", which kicked off the high-energy set. Bachman, Turner and company grabbed the throttle from the start and didn't let up one bit.
Bachman and Turner, both in their mid 60s, whipped up the same guitar driven wall of sound that made them famous from the time they roared out of their native Canada. The two traded lead vocals, with Turner's signature gritty, hard as nails signing still capable of peeling the paint off the walls, as his ending screams punctuated the pulse-pounding "Not Fragile" and "Sledgehammer", the latter the closest thing BTO produced to a power ballad, quipped Bachman.
Turner was able to switch vocal gears when needed, slowing down for a cool, bluesy run at "Blue Collar" and cruising through "Four Wheel Drive", which came down a notch on the breakneck pace scale but still had plenty of bite.
Bachman's singing is versatile, allowing him to switch to the jazzy hit "Looking Out For Number One" , the catchy, churning "Hey You" and one of his odes to what he knows best on "Rock is My Life and This is My Song".
The twosome even combined their efforts for early BTO standard "Hold Back the Water", with Bachman taking the early lead and producing a wah-wah like guitar solo effect with a drumstick before the song morphed into one of his Guess Who hits, "American Woman", with Turner taking over for the Burton Cummings-like wail.
The backing band of Brent Howard, Marc LaFrance and Mick Dalla-Vee are road-tested Bachman veterans who were content to whip up the rhythmic thrusts of the songs but let Bachman's stinging guitar and Turner's pounding bass lead the way.
While the hits carried the concert, it's clear Bachman and Turner aren't just interested in nostalgia, as they have a new album set for release on Sept. 7 and they showcased three new quality songs that held their own in the B&T repertoire.
"Moonlight Rider" featured Turner on vocals, while Randy took his turn with "Slave to the Rhythm". The single "Rollin' Along" has Turner's distinctive singing to carry the day. All of those songs would fit nicely on any BTO record.
The best was saved for last. The chart-topping "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet", with Bachman's trademark stutter-singing, brought the crowd to its feet in time for the band to step off stage for its obligatory encore, which contained the one-two combination of the propulsive "Let It Ride", featuring a Bachman guitar workout in the middle, and, of course, "Takin' Care of Business", Bachman's sly nod to the working rock musician.
The reunited Bachman and Turner displayed that they have plenty of fuel left in the tank to take their reunion the distance.
Opening the evening was an energetic performance by Lukas Nelson and The Promise of the Real. Lukas is the son of country legend Willie Nelson, and he has that unmistakable Willie-like twang in his voice. However, the animated Lukas is more interested in showing off his prowess as a guitar hero, displaying Hendrix-like tricks such as playing six-string solos with his teeth as he bounces around the stage on psychedelic blues rock with a hint of country, such as his take on "Hoochie Koochie Man".
The 21 year-old Lukas, who has been opening for his father on the road this summer, definitely caught everyone's attention and has the chops to make his own way in the musical world. He's definitely a performer on the rise and one to keep an eye on.