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Best years haven't passed Blue Oyster Cult by

Joe Naiman

Village News Reporter

The 13 songs, not including a guitar solo, performed during the Blue Oyster Cult concert Dec. 2 at Pala Casino's Events Center included "The Golden Age of Leather." The audience was asked to sing the opening, which includes the words "Our best years have passed us by." Maybe the best years for music have passed us by, but the best years for Blue Oyster Cult aren't yet over.

I like to write about the performing bands rather than myself, but I should disclose that I am 58 years old. The first concert I saw was Cheap Trick during their Dream Police tour in early 1981, and I also saw Ozzy Osbourne during his Diary of a Madman tour in 1982.

It should also be noted that one of the security guards at the concert is also 58 years old. She told me that she initially was surprised to see an older audience, but then realized that she's aged over the years as has the band. There were some metalheads under 40 at the Dec. 2 concert, but a majority of the audience members are old enough to remember the best years of rock music.

While we're on the subject of age, there are two members of Blue Oyster Cult who have been with the band for the entire 50 years. Lead vocalist Eric Bloom turned 78 the day before the concert and guitarist Buck Dharma turned 75 last month. Bassist Danny Miranda is in his second tenure with the band and originally joined Blue Oyster Cult in 1995. Guitarist and keyboard player Richie Castellano and drummer Jules Radino joined the band in 2004.

Early in the concert Bloom promised to perform songs from the band's most recent album to the beginning. That would be the case. Blue Oyster Cult released the band's most recent album, "The Symbol Remains," in October 2020 and the Pala concert included two songs from that album, "That Was Me" and "Train True."

The self-titled Blue Oyster Cult album released in 1972 was the band's first and the final song of the Dec. 2 performance, "Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll," was from that album. The other encore song, "Hot Rails to Hell," was from "Tyranny and Mutation," which was the band's second album and released in 1973.

The 1976 album "Agents of Fortune" included "Don't Fear the Reaper," which was the band's first song to register on the top 40 chart. Bloom and Dharma are 45 years closer to the reaper than they were when "Don't Fear the Reaper" peaked at #12 on the Billboard 100 list (as are many of the rest of us), but they played that song and the others like they weren't afraid of the reaper at all.

The band's 1981 hit "Burnin' for You" includes the words "Time to play B-sides." Perhaps it's a good thing most of the audience members are over 50 and know what the B side of a record single is. After that song was played, Bloom said, "That goes back to the earliest days of MTV." Those earliest days were when MTV focused on music videos rather than reality shows.

The best years of MTV have passed Blue Oyster Cult and the band's fans by, but the audience could tell that the band isn't yet on the decline and the fans' ability to enjoy concerts hasn't passed them by.

Getting older means having numerous memories to enjoy. The Dec. 2 concert adds to the memories from the best years of music. There are still more best years to occur, both for the audience members and for the band.


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