Crack The Sky commandeered the ballyard at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland, on Thursday, June 19, 2003. The popular band, adopted by Charm City natives, performed following a ball game between the Orioles and the victorious Toronto Blue Jays.

     Original founding members and guitarists John Palumbo and Rick Witkowski were joined by Bobby Hird on guitar, John Tracey on drums, Glenn Workman on keyboards, and Carey Ziegler on bass guitar. Sarah Fleischer from WIYY 98 Rock gave the group their introduction.

     Their evening set featured three tunes from Crack The Sky's new disc Ghost. The band was staged above the bullpen in the picnic area at the rear of the ballpark. Fans came from far away as Connecticut, Florida, and New Jersey to enjoy a rare public appearance by this astounding live unit.

     Crack The Sky kicked off their blistering set with "Go", a new number from Ghost. The group appeared on stage with Palumbo handling lead vocals on the heavy-handed rocker. Workman's synthesizer intro was bolstered by choice bass notes from Ziegler. Witkowski's fierce guitar lead was chased by Hird's sharp lead guitar solo.

     Toughened guitars sounded a roughed-up version of "White Music". Tracey pounded away on the skins during the band's workout on this infamous rocker. Witkowski replicated the crunching-guitar intro for an amazing live take on the classic Crack track "Flashlight". Ziegler's fluid bass lines added a funk-undercurrent to the aural pleasure of the piece.

     Palumbo humorously excused himself as the concert host, deferring to Witkowski to handle communicating with the audience. Witkowski announced, "This is the G-rated version of Crack The Sky, and I'm proud to be your host".

     "Skin Deep" rocked with a guitar-siren intro and Ziegler's jumping bass notes. Workman's synth imitated a horn solo, and the ballpark crowd sang the lyric "Life is more than..." before Witkowski took off on his guitar solo. "Wet Teenager", a golden nugget from 1976, was given a cool swing-style arrangement that was highlighted by a band jam on the bridge.

     Palumbo's political satire radiated in the comical lyrics of "Coconuts", another terrific new song found on Ghost. The Classic Crack sound was epitomized by the signature sound of Witkowski's guitar and Ziegler's bass playing, which received well deserved applause.

     During "Ice", Palumbo invited a pair of young boys and girls to sit on stage with the band during the jam portion of the song. "She's A Dancer" is another example of Palumbo's prolific composition skills. The 1975 classic is as fresh as ever performed live, and the crowd chimed in again on the melodic chorus, fortified by a triple guitar assault on the coda.

     "Hold On/Surf City", which opens their debut album, received an exciting and extended jam arrangement. This stage rendition weaved musical stanzas from six Beatles classics including "Day Tripper", "Strawberry Fields Forever", You Can't Do That", "I Feel Fine", "Back In The USSR", and The End", which showcased dueling guitar leads traded among the individual guitarists. This Crack-packed production was simply outstanding.

     Crack The Sky ended the evening with their 1980 classic "Hot Razors In My Heart". Palumbo, sans guitar, asked a member of the audience to hold up a lyric sheet for him to read. The band cranked up their rendition, spotlighting Witkowski's intense lead solos and Ziegler's animated bass slapping.

     Palumbo and Workman played two levels of keyboards, and Witkowski's whining guitar cried out like a musical metaphor, pining away for an unfaithful Cindy. Their hard-rock version culminated in a wild display of cheers and applause for Crack The Sky.

     The band returned for an anticipated encore, prompting Witkowski to introduce the band members and crew. Their spirited cover of The Beatles' 1967 psychedelic single "I Am The Walrus" was launched by Workman's keyboards and supported by "Woos" on the chorus by elated fans. A young girl was welcomed from behind stage to play a drum as the band delivered an impressive crescendo to close the concert.

Baltimore setlist: Go * White Music * Nuclear Apathy * From The Greenhouse * Flashlight * Zoom * All American Boy * Skin Deep * Wet Teenager * Coconuts * Ice * She's Dancer * Hold On/Surf City w/Day Tripper > Strawberry Fields Forever > You Can't Do That > I Feel Fine > Back In The USSR > The End medley * Hot Razors In My Heart * Encore: I Am The Walrus

RockonTour   Issue #22
Concert Fan - the Single Source for the Concertphile © 2003 RoT
                  the Single Source for the Concertphile

Take me out to the concert
Classic Crack The Sky above the bullpen

by Timothy Tilghman