If you’ve ever been to one of Creation Entertainment’s Supernatural conventions, then you know who Louden Swain is. And, they’re what makes Saturday nights so special at these conventions.
Cleveland marked my fourth Saturday Night Special concert seeing Swain, singer/songwriter Jason Manns, and the cast of Supernatural take to the stage to showcase their musical talents. This one felt a little different, however. Not only was the night of the concert the five year anniversary of front man Rob Benedict’s stroke, but the band had also released their new acoustic album ‘Splitting the Seams‘ early to fans at the convention.
While waiting in line for the concert, fans were handing out red bracelets that said “SPN Cleveland 2018” and a lyric from the band’s song ‘Reunion’ that says, “I’m still alive and I’m still trying.” They also were giving out red glow sticks with instructions to hold them up during the songs ‘Amazing’ and ‘She Waits’.
The band opened with ‘Reunion’, and after playing ‘Present Time’ brought out Matt Cohen to perform Wolfmother’s ‘Joker and the Thief’.
There was no denying you were at a rock concert anymore. Matt is always an amazing presence on stage at these concerts and this song was a great choice for the energy he brings to his performances.
After Matt left, the next song on the set list was another Swain song, ‘Downtown Letdown’. This is one of my absolute favorite songs, and finally getting to see the band perform it live was incredible.
Next up was ‘Silverspoon’, a song I haven’t seen the band perform since my very first SNS in April of 2016. Convention photographer Chris Schmelke joined the band on stage to play bass on the song. Next up, the band performed a track from the acoustic album, and that was ‘Overachiever.’ Another of my favorite Swain songs, hearing not only this song, but this version of the song was an amazing experience. The next celebrity performer to take the stage was Ruth Connell, and she and Rob sang Garbage’s ‘#1 Crush’.
The next performance is honestly what made the show for me. ‘Rock Song’ was a song I had never heard the band perform live, and it was the first time they had performed this song as an acoustic version at the Saturday Night Concerts. The sound, style and feel of the song was totally changed. I had chills. Rob’s voice was raw and powerful when he sang the lyrics, “where are all my friends?” What the band originally wrote as a faster paced song, had now been turned into a melancholy ballad. By the time the final verse ended, I had been brought to tears, and was sitting in my seat just stunned at the performance.
Kim Rhodes was up next, and I couldn’t have picked a better song for her if I tried. Kim owned the stage as she belted out No Doubt’s ‘I’m Just a Girl’. She finished the song with the line, “I’ve had it up to here”, middle finger raised high in the air.
Rob introduced the next song ‘Angela’, talking about how it was written about his stroke and his recovery. Fans – myself included – joined in loudly singing along to the verse, “you set me right.”
Briana Buckmaster followed up Kim’s performance, singing ‘Olive Branch’ with Rob – a song he wrote for her debut album. I nearly jumped out of my seat when the opening chords started to this song, because it is my favorite song on her album, and I had been hoping they would perform it.
Jason joined the band on stage next to perform songs by The Station Breaks – ‘Hallelujah’ and ‘Stowaway’. There was a part during their performance of ‘Hallelujah’ where Rob and Jason stopped singing, and just let the crowd sing the lyrics. Hearing all those voices chiming in together, and the look on Rob and Jason’s faces is something I won’t soon forget.
Red glow sticks were up in the air all over the room for the next song ‘Amazing’. Fans waved the glow sticks in time to the music as Rob sang. I’ve seen the band perform this song a few times. The first time was when it was a brand new and still upcoming release for their album ‘No Time Like the Present’ in 2016.
The band performed another song from that album next ‘This is How’. My favorite part of when the band performs this song is how Rob gets the crowd to interact with him during the song. The back and forth of him singing one set of lyrics, and then the call back from the crowd is always so much fun. This was the final song the band performed, before Mark Pellegrino came on stage to call the band back for an encore.
The glow sticks made a return as the band launched into ‘She Waits’. This is another of my favorite songs. And I love to see it performed live, because of the atmosphere in the room and with the band and with the crowd. After the final verse was sung, the glow sticks went down, and the heart hands went up from both the audience, and from Rob on stage.
The final song of the night was ‘Mamma’s Jam’ and what a way to close out the night. Not only did the cast that had performed that night return to the stage – now joined by Alexander Calvert and Mark Pellegrino – but they soon took to the aisles, running around and ramping the crowd up as the band performed. Fans took to the aisles, the house lights came on, and soon Rob and Billy were playing and running through the aisles.
All to soon however, it was over. Rob, Billy, Mike and Stephen came to the stage and gave their final bows after closing out what may have been the best Saturday Night Special concert I’ve been to.