Hughie Thomasson--guitar and vocals; Freddie Salem---guitar and vocals; David Dix---drums; Rick Cua---bass and vocals
Back when Southern Rock ruled the arenas and airwaves, one of the top marquee names aside Georgia's Allman Brothers and Florida's Lynyrd Skynyrd was the Gator State's own the Outlaws, from Tampa. Following their mega-success in the '70s but before their brand of southern-inspired boogie went into retrograde, MTV caught the band in their early '80s prime, during this 1982 show at live concert Mecca, the Tower Theater in Philadelphia (scene of countless historic live shows, from David Bowie to The Boss).
After some false starts in the late '60s and early '70s, the Outlaws as we've come to know them got their start thanks to a couple of lucky breaks: Skynyrd's Ronnie Van Zant helped them secure their first managers, and he also reportedly urged industry mogul Clive Davis to sign the band to the Arista label, newly under his auspice.
The Outlaws' self-titled debut from 1975 would contain two of their greatest hits, both of them penned by founding member, Hughie Thomasson: the jangling "There Goes Another Love Song" and the epic jam, "Green Grass and High Tides." Six albums followed in quick succession and this gig catches them working out new songs like the breezy "Goodbye" with its dueling guitars, the heavy-riffing "Foxtail Lilly" and the pummeling "Don't Stop", all plucked from 1982's Los Hombres Malo, the band's seventh studio release.
Starting off hard with "Devil's Road" from the 1980 album Ghost Riders, the band wastes no time serving up "Hurry Sundown," one of their twang-ified '80s hits, from the album of the same title. "We're going to tell you a little ghost story," they say by way of introduction to the perennial cowboy tale, "Ghost Riders in the Sky."
But of course the audience is waiting to hear the big ones, and sure enough, they get them: Following "Hurry Sundown" at the top of the set, the Outlaws deliver a nearly 20-minute rendition of "Green Grass…" at the midpoint and offer the chiming guitars of "There Goes Another Love Song" as a climax. But when they blast off into encore-land with "Don't Stop" and "Angels Hide", and check-out with "Long Gone," the band's dueling guitarists Thomasson and Freddie Salem unleash an arsenal of hard-rock riffs and leads that could rival any of the metal and arena rock bands of their day. Who knew? Guess that's why they're called the Outlaws….