The Hangover first saw The Stompers back in 1979 when they played a concert at “the small prestigious liberal arts college” (not exactly my own terminology) I attended. We hadn’t heard of them, but the fliers distributed around the dining hall claimed the Boston band was known for passionate, high-energy live shows. It was a $5 gamble we were willing to take. Well, The Stompers blew the roof off the gym and we were instant converts. The Hangover followed the band through the years, and the shows always lived up to the standard set that first night. When a friend suggested we see their reunion concert this summer at the Casino Ballroom in Hampton Beach, it was easy to imagine a good time. That the Stompers would blow any pangs of nostaglia to smithereens wasn’t even considered.
Being professional musicians, it would have been easy for Sal Baglio, Dave Friedman, Steve Gilligan, and Lenny Shea to get on stage, have some fun, and go through the motions. Instead, the Stompers revved up, dug down, and played one of the best sets in the long history of The Hangover’s concert experience. With a horn section and back-up singers behind them, the Stompers ruled from the first notes of “This is Rock and Roll” through the closing “Rock and Roll.” As young men, we had considered Sal Baglio a rock god; it was good to see our original assessment was on the money.
The Hangover and associates were hooting, hollering, singing, and raising our bottles in tribute throughout the night. We screamed “Sal” just as we had at countless shows back in the ’80’s. It should have been pathetic: 2000 middle-agers acting as they had 25 years earlier, when they were young and foolish and drunk–and didn’t care if they acted like a bunch of idiots. But The Stompers July 26th set was a time machine. The Hangover wasn’t concerned about the kids back home with the babysitter or the hangover (the real thing) staring me down the barrel of Sunday morning. The Stompers transported myself and countless others back to a time when we didn’t worry and the music really mattered. It was as close to The Fountain of Youth as we will ever get.
Few bands can do what the Stompers did on Saturday night. Three days later, I’m still feeling good about it. The Hangover is grateful.