Skinner STAR-4 Starship Starship at Caesars Windsor

Starship Lifts Off At Caesars Windsor

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Skinner STAR-4 Starship Starship at Caesars Windsor
Starship hit the stage in the Colosseum at Caesars Windsor on 16 January 2016.
Photo by John Skinner.

Column header Ian ShalapataBy Ian Shalapata

(WINDSOR, ON) – Starship took the stage at Caesars Windsor, Saturday night, to a warm welcome from the almost full house at the Colosseum. The band was in Windsor to open the double header with Eddie Money.

With little more than a, “Hello Windsor,” Mickey Thomas led the band into 1979’s Jane, from the album Freedom at Point Zero.

Skinner STAR-14 Mickey Thomas Starship at Caesars Windsor
Mickey Thomas, the front man for Starship, greets Windsor before launching into Jane.
Photo by John Skinner.

The pop-rock mainstay, which charted at #14 in the US, is unquestionably a 70s song. With Thomas hitting his trademark high notes, and backed by big keyboards, courtesy of Phil Bennett, it wasn’t long before the audience was up and moving.

With the crowd amply warmed, Starship moved into Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us, before launching their 1985 hit, Sara.

Skinner STAR-7 Stephanie Calvert Mickey Thomas Starship at Caesars Windsor
Stephanie Calvert took ownership of White Rabbit and Somebody to Love, staples of Jefferson Airplane.
Photo by John Skinner.

It was at this point that Thomas paid homage to the 50+ year history of Starship, and Jefferson Airplane before. Any child of the Sixties with remember founding members, and vocalists, Marty Balin and Grace Slick.

Balin left Jefferson Airplane in 1971, having been hit hard by the death of his friend Janis Joplin. It would be Mickey Thomas who would replace Balin as lead vocal for the band.

But in their look back at the Airplane, Stephanie Calvert would step to the mic on White Rabbit and Somebody to Love. Calvert won’t make you forget Grace Slick, but she made the rock anthems her own, with huge vocals and stage presence.

Albeit a truncated set, noticeably absent from the nostalgia trip was Volunteers and Plastic Fantastic Lover.

Skinner STAR-1 Phil Bennett Starship at Caesars Windsor
Keyboardist Phil Bennett provided the big synth sound that Starship is known for.
Photo by John Skinner.

Starship slowed things down a bit when they performed blues guitarist Elvin Bishop’s Fooled Around and Fell In Love. Thomas was a backup singer in Bishop’s band when he was offered to sing lead on the song. It was that opportunity that led to being selected to replace Balin.

The band rocked out on Find Your Way Back before culminating the evening with We Built This City. Thomas said the 1985 smash hit is about all cities around the world. But really, the song that hit #1 in Canada, Australia, and the US, harkens back to Jefferson Airplane’s ties to San Francisco when it was the centre of the hippie movement and drug culture.

Skinner STAR-2 John Roth Starship at Caesars Windsor
Guitarist extraordinaire John Roth had few opportunities cut loose and shred.
Photo by John Skinner.

A downside to the Starship set was the limited opportunity for John Roth to properly shine on lead guitar. The few times Roth had the spotlight he proved he could shred with the best of them.

Jeff Adams laid down the baseline for Starship as well as providing backing vocals. Adams’ has a fresh style and entertaining interaction with the other members on stage.

Skinner STAR-8 Jeff Adams Starship at Caesars Windsor
Starship’s bassist Jeff Adams.
Photo by John Skinner.

Looking as if he’s as comfortable behind the kit as he is on a Harley Davidson Softail, Darrell Verdusco has played with the likes of Jeff Beck and David Bowie. Saturday night he never missed a beat from psychedelia to pop to straight up rock.

Starship, at Caesars Windsor, was incredible and the classics were better than ever.

Skinner STAR-13 Darrell Verdusco Starship at Caesars Windsor
Darrell Verdusco with a commanding view of Starship.
Photo by John Skinner.