Review by Scott Murphy
October 11, 2017 | Hong Kong
Nick. St. Nicholas. Aynsley Dunbar. Randall Hall. Greg Walker. Fran Cosmo. Michael Monarch. David Coyle. Mark Hoyt. Juan del Castillo.
Recognize any of those names?
Perhaps not, but collectively these musicians are responsible for some of rock’s most enduring and recognized songs, including “Born To Be Wild”, “Free Bird”, “Black Magic Woman”, “More Than A Feeling”, “Dust In The Wind” and “Don’t Stop Believing”. They’ll be performing all of those songs and more during a hits filled set this Saturday, October 11th at the annual Hong Kong Rugby Union Charity Ball in the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center in Wan Chai.
For the group, who call themselves the World Classic Rockers, the opportunity to perform in Hong Kong marks their first show here in a decade, one which had attendees going out of their minds hearing energetic, souped up versions of songs that lie at the heart of the classic rock sound. In 2007, many audience members ended up onstage singing right along with the band. “It was such a great experience being in Hong Kong the first time,” says former Boston lead singer Fran Cosmo by phone from his home in upstate New York. “Everybody loved it. We went to a restaurant on a junk—we remember that—and we’re all looking forward to coming back.”
Collectively the group, who include former members of Boston, Steppenwolf, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Santana, Journey and Kansas, perform about 35 shows a year around the world, with audiences ranging from a few hundred at corporate shows to 25,000 at the arenas they perform in. “What’s strange about it is that we never rehearse,” says Cosmo. “Everyone is a pro and we all pitch in. It’s like a good football team, a strong unit.”
Nick St. Nicholas of Steppenwolf first came up with the concept, and though there have been imitators, the World Classic Rockers are neither disparaging or threatened by what other similar acts do. In Cosmo’s case, he had just come off a tour with Boston in 2007 when he was approached. A decade later, he claims that not only has the time flown by, but group members still inspire each other whenever they perform. “We never go onstage without standing in a circle and saying a prayer,” he says. “That way we go onstage with all these nice feelings inside us. That’s how we are together in this band.”
As often as they can, the group also take time out to visit and perform for charity organizations. In the case of Saturday night’s show, the group knows that they’ll be supporting the Po Leung Kuk charity, which provides support and education for orphaned and underprivileged children in the city. “We look forward to that,” says Cosmo. “We’ve even done a couple fantasy camps this year in the U.S. Our favorite one was where we appeared for Courageous Faces, an organization where some of the members are burn victims or have birth defects. Their attitudes were amazing and it was a very moving experience for us.”
On the night, Cosmo expects to sing some of the Boston classics that generations of fans have come to know and love – songs like “More Than A Feeling”, “Don’t Look Back” and “Peace of Mind”. At 61, Cosmo tours with his own band when not with the Rockers and says he can still hit the notes that original singer Brad Delp made famous.
He believes that classic rock, a genre built by many of the acts and songs that will be performed on Saturday night, will never really go away because there’s nothing like it. “It’s such a great era for rock ‘n’ roll,” he says. “Every band from Boston to Journey to Led Zeppelin to Foreigner has such a uniqueness. Now they don’t have that. There’s such a similar sound, which is why what we do goes over so well. It’s not just people who are older. It’s a younger crowd too.”
The World Classic Rockers will be performing at the Hong Kong Rugby Union Charity Ball (which begins at 6pm) at the HKCEC on Saturday, November 11th. Full details and tickets are available via www.hkrucharityball.org.
Over the past two decades, Scott Murphy has talked to many of the biggest names in the entertainment industry, in addition to vital up and comers. As a long-time producer at MTV-Asia and Channel V, he created several programs and produced many long-form documentaries on such acts as U2, Metallica, Madonna and more. He’s also been published in many newspapers and publications around the world. Currently, he’s a Creative Director at Dragon 8, a Hong Kong based auction house.