Grace Slick - vocals
Mickey Thomas - vocals
Paul Kantner - guitar, vocals
Craig Chaquico - lead guitar
David Freiberg - keyboards
Pete Sears - bass
Aynsley Dunbar - drums
At the dawn of the MTV Age, Jefferson Starship was still plugging away, but they were clearly running out of creative steam. Grace Slick had returned to the band, but during her absence the group had recruited former Elvin Bishop Group vocalist, Mickey Thomas, and Journey's drummer, Ansley Dunbar, into the band. The combination of Thomas' falsetto and Dunbar's drumming, along with a shift in songwriting responsibilities to Chaquico and Sears, led to a harder arena-rock sound that was savaged by the critics and left many of their long-time supporters behind. Possibly due to the nature of this benefit concert and despite internal and external problems, they put on a respectable performance that manages to capture some of the energy of the free concerts of years gone by.
Their set begins with the sure-fire crowd pleaser "Somebody to Love," followed by "Ride the Tiger" from their debut album, Dragonfly. This was a safe approach to opening the set and achieves getting the crowd's support. Slick's lone contribution to their Modern Times album from the previous year, "Stranger," followed by the Red Octopus track, "Fastbuck Freddie," gives her a chance to be the focal point, before they venture into newer material.
They stick to the most recognizable material from recent years, beginning with their 1981 single "Save Your Love," and then Mickey Thomas leads the group through his big hit with Elvin Bishop Group, "Fooled Around and Fell In Love." Kantner's Freedom at Point Zero track, "Girl With the Hungry Eyes," an attempt to embrace the new wave that was becoming increasingly popular, is next and features a moderately interesting bass solo by Sears.
They briefly return to the Red Octopus album for "Play On Love" followed by "Jane," the classic AOR hit from Freedom At Point Zero. The screeching lead vocals and guitar, crunchy chord changes, and dubious reggae-flavored bridge are well received by the audience, but magnify the shifting power within the band, as does "Light the Sky On Fire," a relatively rare song, featured in a Star Wars special and as the B-side of the "Hyperdrive" single.
Kantner's rant at the band's critics and his attempt at defending the many musical changes the band had gone through is next. "Stairway to Cleveland" is fueled by anger and bitterness, but Kantner's sense of humor also comes across and his rebellious nature is exemplified in the refrain "We do what we want!" The Spitfire track, "Dance With the Dragon," gets the expanded jam treatment to close the set on a high note.
The audience wants more and they return for a double encore of Slick's classic Airplane hit, "White Rabbit," followed by the moderately successful 1979 Chaquico penned single, "Rock Music." This easily accessible good time sing-a-long number ends the show on a positive note.
After replacing Dunbar, the group would soldier on to make one more album before Kantner would permanently depart taking the "Jefferson" half of the band name with him. The remaining members would continue into the MTV age as Starship.