Little River Band bridges the gap

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 5, 1999

New generations tend to dampen the spirit of many rock bands.

Thursday, August 05, 1999

New generations tend to dampen the spirit of many rock bands. After all, it’s logical that a daughter’s musical taste won’t match her mother’s ear for tunes, but every once and awhile, a band does manage to bridge that gap.

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Enter the Little River Band.

When LRB took the stage at the Freeborn County Fair Wednesday, the boys, mostly from Melbourne, Australia, didn’t immediately click. Their 1976 hit, &uot;It’s a Long Way There,&uot; seemed like it belonged in 1976.

The song’s initial response from a packed crowd of 5,000 young and older spectators was friendly, but this is Minnesota; friendly is second-nature.

Then, a loud, magical voice broke the tempered applause.

The 20-something women screamed, &uot;I feel it baby&uot; and lead singer, Steve Wade, responded, &uot;I heard that.&uot;

From that moment, the Little River Band broke the gap with hits like &uot;A Man On Your Mind&uot; to &uot;Lady.&uot;

Wade asked everyone to sing along and original fans started singing songs they forgot they once loved; younger fans then joined in, making the first show a concert that united the ages.

One guy said, &uot;That’s right. They sang that song,&uot; when Wade belted out, &uot;Lonesome Loser.&uot;

Before &uot;Reminiscing&uot; the lead singer said, &uot;Be loud and obnoxious like us,&uot; and the heads of new fans bobbed with LRB’s unmistakable late ’70s beat.

When Wade left the stage briefly during &uot;Reminiscing,&uot; guitarist Stephen Housden’s solo drew appreciation from seniors to children.

&uot;We’re not from around these here parts,&uot; Housden said as he introduced the band. &uot;Most of us are from Australia.&uot;

He then introduced Wayne Nelson, the band’s lone American member, who sang the next hit, &uot;Take It Easy On Me.&uot; The hit solicited a deafening roar from the crowd.

Fans nodded in further appreciation as Wade sang, &uot;Happy Anniversary Baby&uot; and &uot;Help is on the Way.&uot;

When Nelson sang, &uot;Nightowl,&uot; the crowd stood. Most fans never sat back down.

They applauded so tumultuously for an encore that one man said, &uot;I thought there was going to be a riot.&uot;

It didn’t take the Little River Band long to return for its two encore hits, &uot;Cool Change and &uot;Lady.&uot;

&uot;This song is dedicated to all the lovely, gorgeous ladies in Albert Lea,&uot; Wade said before belting out LRB’s biggest hit, &uot;Lady.&uot;

Little River Band was the first Australian-based rock band to successfully record hit after hit in the United States. From 1976 to 1985, the band continued to dominate the Top 10 list with 16 major hits by 1985.

Formed in 1975, Little River Band has now sold more than 25 million records.

While band members have come and gone, its unmistakable sound has continued during its 24-year history, and the band continues to record new music.

One of the most popular responses Wednesday came when the band played, &uot;Highway to Heaven,&uot; which it just recorded.