Paul Kantner - lead vocals, guitar; Mickey Thomas - lead vocals; David Freiberg - bass, vocals; Craig Chaquico - lead guitar, vocals; Aynsley Dunbar - drums; Pete Sears - keyboards, vocals
This show was recorded at X's in San Francisco, the first of a two-night stand by the Bay Area's favorite rockers: Jefferson Starship. This was a strange time for the band, both musically and personally. The group, which had begun in 1965 as the Jefferson Airplane, had splintered into a myriad of solo and side projects, and by 1979, when this show was recorded, only Paul Kantner remained from the original Airplane line-up.
Furthermore, the group had lost two of its key members, singers Grace Slick and Marty Balin, the previous year, in a haze of in-fighting, musical power struggles, and substance abuse. Jefferson Starship, now fully under the leadership of Kantner, had regrouped and reinvented itself musically with a muscular and hard-rock driven sound that was shaped around the lead guitar work of 19 year-old guitarist Craig Chaquico, the powerhouse drumming of ex-Bowie/Journey basher Aynsley Dunbar, and the band's new lead vocalist, Mickey Thomas. Thomas had just spent several years as the front person for the Elvin Bishop Group, and had seen a top-five hit with the song "Fooled Around And Fell In Love."
What is remarkable about this recording is how much they had changed: they sound light years away from the acoustic/electric blend of the classic Airplane/Starship recordings the band had built its foundation upon. Kantner was keen to embrace the growing AOR (Album-oriented rock) format of FM radio, and took the band in a direction that was not unlike the contemporary recordings of that day by Foreigner or Journey. Opening with "Wooden Ships" (the classic song co-written by members of Starship and CSN), Kantner and the band move into a hard-rocking remake of the old Airplane classic "Somebody To Love." Without Slick it sounds weird, but the band certainly rocks its ass off on this version.
Next, they offer an early version of "Stranger," another rocker, which was also the track that prompted Slick to rejoin the group the following year. The rest of the set comes mainly from tracks presented on the band's 1979 platinum disc, Freedom At Point Zero, including a powerhouse take of the radio hit "Jane." They also offer up a version of the Airplane classic "Volunteers," which had its lyrics modified to reflect the recent anti-nuclear power sentiments going on in the USA at the time.