Lynyrd Skynyrd comes to Rhein-Main
Stars and Stripes June 14, 2003
The scene reeked of bourbon, sweat, good old boys and rock ’n’ roll under the muggy thunder-lit sky. Freezing raindrops the size of quarters fell on the crowd, wedged shoulder to shoulder toward the front of the makeshift stage at Hangar 38 on Rhein-Main Air Base.
Lynyrd Skynyrd brought a piece of America to the base with Southern rock heard far past installation gates and throughout American Forces Network airwaves during the group’s free concert for troops Thursday night.
Tracks from the group’s newest album, “Vicious Cycle,” mingled with old favorites, reminding the crowd what America is all about. One crowd pleaser, “Red White and Blue,” was made to be a shot at anybody opposed to the United States, according to the band.
Initially, the band had scheduled a rehearsal day for Thursday, just before their tour kicked off. When front man Johnny Van Zant was preparing for the upcoming tour in Germany in March, he paid a visit to AFN and decided the day would be better spent on the servicemembers.
“It’s good to be able to play for the troops and their family,” said Van Zant, younger brother of original lead singer Ronnie Van Zant. “We’re very blessed. It was our pleasure to come over and do it. It’s good for us to give back. We’ve got good karma now.”
Before the concert, the band toured the installation, as well as a C-17 that was parked near the stage. Lynyrd Skynyrd played for nearly two hours, with two encores, and finished with a long rendition of “Free Bird.”
“It was very moving and very touching to be able to bring something to them and give them something back. They’ve given us so much. Without them doing what they do, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do,” said guitarist Rickey Medlocke before the band left Frankfurt.
The free concert kicked off the European leg of the group’s tour in promotion of “Vicious Cycle,” as well as its 30th anniversary. The new release represents Lynyrd Skynyrd’s first studio album in four years.
Band members said they’re planning more free concerts for military members around the world.
“It’s about time. We’ve got a song named ‘Red White and Blue,’ so we should be supporting our troops,” Van Zant said.
— Ray Conway contributed to this article.