I don’t go to the Hollywood Casino much. I fully admit I’m one of those former West Siders who thought it would be great to put the Columbus casino on the West Side rather than downtown, who thought that it would revitalize the entire West Side and be really great for my former neighbors. Of course, that’s not the way it turned out. The casino ABSOLUTELY should have been downtown, where it might have actually attracted clientele from the Convention Center, Huntington Park, etc., and been better positioned for people from all over the city to converge at one CENTRAL LOCATION to gamble their hard-earned money, as opposed to the West Side senior citizens pissing away their Social Security checks at the penny slots, the way I see it now.
But I digress………
The British Invasion is playing the Hollywood Casino this Saturday night, May 7th, 8-11:30 pm in the H Lounge (formerly the O-H lounge) and that’s more than enough to lure me back to my old neighborhood. (I could throw a softball from my first apartment in Lincoln Park West and hit the casino.) The British Invasion is five guys playing all the 1964-1967 British Invasion tunes I cut my musical teeth on, but more importantly, not just the normal mishmash of Beatles ‘n’ Stones tunes bands of this genre normally play: The British Invasion goes Deep Cuts on The Kinks, The Small Faces, The Hollies, The Zombies and The Troggs – among others – and charms the hell out of this West Side rocker's heart. (And, you’ve gotta understand, normally Ricki C. is not gonna venture out on a Saturday night ANYWHERE – let alone the Hollywood Casino – to see a cover/tribute band: has Ricki EVER seen The Menus or The Reaganomics? Not on your sweet, short life.)
My sister’s coming up from Grove City to meet me for the show, too, and that’s cool, because she’s the one who turned me on to The British Invasion to begin with. A coupla years ago they played some downtown street bash in Grove City and all I heard for the next two weeks was Dianne babbling, “You’ve gotta see this band I saw! They’re called The British Invasion and THEY WERE GREAT! We’ve gotta find out where they’re playing next and go see them! You’d love them!”
Now let’s keep in mind, ladies & gentlemen, my sister’s tastes in music run to the likes of The Four Seasons, Lawrence Welk and Wayne Newton. (She once actually called me up in the 1980’s and announced breathlessly, “Ric, Wayne Newton is playing at Beulah Park! We should go!” When I replied, “Dianne, I wouldn’t go out in my backyard to see Wayne Newton,” she was genuinely crestfallen.)
So I didn’t have particularly high hopes for whatever outdoor show Dianne dragged me to that summer to see the band, but damn, if The British Invasion DIDN’T DELIVER BIG TIME! First off, they dress up in matching 60’s outfits (which Di loved) and anybody who knows me well realizes that I’m a TOTAL SUCKER for bands in uniforms, from Paul Revere & the Raiders in 1965 to The White Stripes in this 21st century. (The Strokes also kinda fall in that category, come to think of it.) (So do The League Bowlers, but that's a different blog for another time.)
Secondly – and most importantly – The British Invasion doesn’t just PLAY mid-60’s rock & roll music, they UNDERSTAND mid-60’s rock & roll music. They understand that all the little hooks – guitar arpeggios, backing vocals, little drum-breaks coming out of solos – are all JUST AS IMPORTANT as the words & music of the songs. It’s those little touches in the songs that put these guys heads & shoulders above the middling cover bands I have to think litter The Hollywood Casino stage week in and week out.
Anyway, I’m WAY over my allotted 500 words, so let me just say this: If you like rock & roll that is equal parts MELODY, SMARTS & POWER; if you like rock & roll that is as far from alternative hipster bullshit as you can get; if you like rock & roll that is FUN, come and see the British Invasion at the Hollywood Casino this Saturday night. It don’t cost nothin’ and I GUARANTEE a good time. See ya there. - Ricki C. / May 3rd, 2016