Before an estimated Outdoor Expo crowd of 900 at Hempstead Hall, 38 Special proved their unique brand of timeless Classic rock is indeed timeless, as if the 1980s never left them or anyone listening Friday night.

Before an estimated Outdoor Expo crowd of 900 at Hempstead Hall, 38 Special proved their unique brand of timeless Classic rock is indeed timeless, as if the 1980s never left them or anyone listening Friday night.
It was not so much the blistering opening of “Rockin’ into the Night” or the ending set that included “Caught Up In You” and “Hold On Loosely,” but that the powerful lead vocals of Don Barnes and showmanship of other band members, Danny Chauncey, Gary Moffatt, Barry Dunaway and DeWitt’s own Bobby Capps made these songs — and others — sound nearly indistinguishable from the band’s cassette tape heyday in the mid-1980’s.
This was especially impressive considering Barnes, age 65, performed and looked like a man in his prime at 45, singing and playing several guitars and a harmonica during the show. Chauncey, right there with him at age 61, rocked guitar solos and moved about the stage with the vigor and energy of a 30-something.
Lasting almost two hours, the briskly paced concert also saw the group cover a pair of other FM radio classics.  From 1974, there was a stunning version of Chicago’s “Stronger” and an equally powerful rendition of “Good Times” originally made famous by the 1980’s Australian supergroup INXS on the Lost Boys soundtrack.
Barnes also included selections from his solo album, including “Riding the Storm,” which would have fit well in any of 39 Special’s catalog over the years.
Much of the show’s demographic reflected 40-somethings, 50-somethings, and 60-somethings, all of whom fondly recalled the days of FM rock radio in the late 1970s, later the emergence of MTV in the 1980s. Friday night was as much about being in high school again in 1979 or 1984, listening to the same 39 Special selections in a high school stadium parking lot or a local burger joint. Of course, many of the same songs continue to be modern day staples on many a Classic Rock FM station, including 106.3 in Texarkana.
Not forgotten was 1989’s Number-1 Adult Contemporary ballad, “Second Chance,” sung with understated authority by Capps, complimenting the mostly non-stop diet of straight ahead rock-and-roll powered by three guitars, Moffatt’s drum work, and Capps on the keyboards.
There was a body slammin’ version of “Chained Lightin’” complete with requisite stage smoke and red lights as well as the poignant “If I'd Been the One.”
Hempstead Hall Director Dolly Henley said afterwards, “It was really awesome what they did with the light show and the smoke; they needed special accommodations for that, but it really paid off and worked well on stage.”
“Teachers” sounded as good and energetic live as the day it was featured in the 1985 movie soundtrack of the same name, while a 10-minute drum solo by Moffatt set the stage for the closing numbers, “Caught Up in You” and “Hold On Loosely,” both performed with most of the audience standing and singing.
Henley said, “We’ve not had this type of act here before; the post-concert buzz was really positive, and I believe the folks who came really enjoyed this show.”
Ticket sales showed plenty of regional and home folks, but also large contingents from Texas and Louisiana, especially the Shreveport area.
The band’s professionalism and quick pace left little room for idle chatter, where past Hempstead Hall performers like Clint Black or Trace Atkins cracked a joke or told a story or two, but then again, 38 Special’s brand of classic rock did all the band’s talking for them.
And judging from the roar in Hempstead Hall Friday, the crowd most definitely approved.