A friend and I ventured over to Pocola, Okla.’s Choctaw Casino Saturday night to catch Survivor in action at Center Stage. It was worth the ticket price.

What I Liked

Ok it’s no secret I really like live music and I like the irony that the first band I’ve seen since the open heart surgery is Survivor.

That said, on some songs if I had my back to the stage I honestly couldn’t have told you the voice was that of new lead singer Cameron Barton, a 22-year old Nashville, Tenn. resident who obviously wasn’t alive when the songs he was singing were released.

Typically I’m not a big fan of solos because I think they take up time that should be devoted to songs but both of the ones Saturday were pretty cool. Keyboard/rhythm guitarist Walter Tolentino was really good but lead guitarist Frankie Sullivan was better, walking through the isles — with a big body guard/roadie and police escort — stopping to dance with one woman. Of course I like it when performers find a way to involve the audience.

I’ve said this before but I really like Center Stage. It’s a great place to see a show. There’s not really a bad seat in the 600 or so in the venue.

What I Didn’t Like

Look, I know we’re older now but a concert is not a sitting event unless its symphonic or something like that. A rock concert needs more audience participation that the band’s biggest hit or a performer walking the isles during a solo. I asked the woman sitting two seats away, who was obviously having a good time, if she and I were the only two headbanging and she said it looked life half of the audience didn’t want to be there, so it wasn’t just me. If you are having fun, the band will and heck, it might get a little crazy.

I already said I’m wasn’t displeased with value versus experience but I’m still not a fan of the late arrival to the stage, but that’s almost a given. Still, starting and ending five minutes early turns a billed 90-minute show into 80.

Also I didn’t like the friend who was planning on going with me having to cancel but it did make for four seats for two dudes. But then there were plenty of empty seats, which makes those in attendance being all the more vocal.

In The Middle

It’s not that I didn’t like the set list but there were a couple of tunes I would have liked to have heard, like they didn’t do Burning Heart, but that can be said of almost every concert I’ve ever attended.

The merchandise wasn’t terribly overpriced but the choices were a little weak. Look I know Eye of the Tiger is the signature, heck it’s a Grammy winner, but that cover along with the Vital Signs album as the only options were disappointing. I love the 80s as much as anyone but c’mon those were 1982 and 1984 releases and as I started this, Barton was a decade plus away from birth.

In case you’re wondering the venue will welcome Colt Ford on Aug. 11, Candlebox on Aug. 26, the Commodores on Sept. 15 and and Clay Walker on Oct. 7. Personally, I’m already ready for more 80s ties.

A Night Of Rock

On an unrelated note, the one friend and I who went also walked down to Gilley’s in the casino to catch Dead Metal Society. I had heard they were not your typical cover band. The story was true and there may have been as many at Gilley’s as there were at Center Stage.