Photos By Arnie Goodman
The epic snow storm that was to begin later in the evening did not keep B.B. King’s Club in New York City from filling up to standing room only capacity to see the return of Grand Funk Railroad’s Mark Farner.
Walking out onto the stage in a T-shirt, jeans and his long, partially braided hair, he looked exactly like the Mark Farner of old. More importantly, he sounded exactly the same as well, both with his vocals and his guitar playing. Leading a band consisting of bass, drums and keyboards, he launched right into “Are You Ready,” the same tune used to open many of Grand Funk’s shows back in their heyday, around 45 years ago. This began a set of songs that came right at you, non-stop hit after hit… “Footstompin Music,” “We’re An American Band”… they just kept coming, until he finally stopped to take a break and say hello to the audience. Farner informed his very dedicated fans that in the recent past, he had a pacemaker put in due to a heart condition. The energy he exudes on stage now is proof how he has completely recovered.
Along with some new tunes, some blues, came the ’70s classics that all wanted to hear, from the rockers like “Shinin’ On” and “Heartbreaker,” to the more commercial “Bad Time (To Be in Love),” “Some Kind of Wonderful” and his cover of “The Loco-Motion.” At the start of the latter, about 15 fans got up and formed a conga line type parade, dancing up and down the aisles of tables. It was a joy to see for the fans in attendance, and for Farner, who smiled with approval. The evening came to a close with the anthem “I’m Your Captain,” complete with audience sing-a-long of the chorus.
It was a very entertaining show from an often overlooked stalwart of the ’70s rock n’ roll scene. Clearly Farner and his warm heart put out that vibe to his audience with every song he sings.
– Barry Fisch