PRESCOTT - In front of a packed house of screaming fans this past Saturday night at Tim's Toyota Center, Lynyrd Skynyrd proved you're never too old to rock 'n' roll.
Fans appearing to range from 14 to possibly 70-years-old waved their hands in the air, raised cigarette lighters (not cell phones), and shouted choruses to anthems like "What's Your Name," "Tuesday's Gone," "Sweet Home Alabama," and of course, "Freebird," for an electric hour-and-a-half.
Whether it was a night of nostalgia for the older set, or younger folks seeing their classic rock heroes for the first time, the throngs of fans singing along at times overwhelming the volume of Skynyrd's three guitar attack indicated that the experience for all was more than a standard rock concert - it was church.
In front of a video screen beaming home movie images of members in the '70s, notably those that died in a 1977 plane crash, the band with three of the original members aging in their mid to late 50s careened across the stage seemingly fueled by the energy of thundering applause.
"Thank you so much for keeping Lynyrd Skynyrd music alive all these years," said singer Johnny Van Zandt, younger brother of the deceased original vocalist.
One would think that the band that was instrumental in defining the genre of Southern Rock might tire of playing "Freebird" for an encore after three decades of touring, but their enthusiasm shared with loyal fans showed otherwise.
"I think it's the music, brother. The music's timeless and it's going to be here a lot longer after I'm gone, that's for sure," said guitarist Ricky Medlocke, 57, on what keeps bringing fans to shows.
"I think the band's very consistent in its show. We are so consistent every night, and people get their money's worth, I believe. If they're there with the energy, we're there with the energy," he added.
Medlocke's says his love for music fuels his over-the-top performance style and keeps him youthful.
"I'm very high energy, the music does that to me. I believe the people come to see someone having fun and enjoying themselves, and I just got my own way of doing that," he said.
"It was an excellent show," said Rolly Fraunfelter, 60, of Prescott Valley, who joined the ecstatic crowd on the floor with his wife.
Fraunfelter said that he saw the band 30 years ago in Atlanta, Ga.
"They still sound as good as they did then," he added.