The second Summer season of concerts kicked off in fine fashion at at the beautiful Vina Robles Amphitheatre in Paso Robles, California on Friday night (May 30) with Cheech and Chong and War making a stop on their 2014 tour. The in-concert combo immediately strikes as an obvious fit, and that it was, as War not only played a set of their greatest songs, but backed up Cheech and Chong on their material that required musical accompaniment.
Shelby Chong, Tommy’s still stunning wife of 39 years and a comedian, actress and producer in her own right, opened the show with a funny short set, before bringing out Tommy & Cheech for a hilarious question-and-answer session that covered everything from the early days, the era of their popular movies, each of their roles on the shows Nash Bridges and That ’70s Show, their breakup in the mid ’80s, Chong’s nine-month jail term in the early 2000s, and then their reunion in 2002.
WAR backed up on the classic Cheech & Chong musical comedy numbers including 1973’s “Basketball Jones,” and “Me and My Old Lady,” from the Cheech and Chong movie “Things Are Tough All Over.” WAR moved into the night rocking their own set with original member Lonnie Jordan leading the band that has seemingly gotten better over time, much as the vino at this picturesque winery. “Me and Baby Brother,” “Summertime,” “Cisco Kid,” all were entertaining, with Jordan even jumping off the stage and getting some audience involvement on vocals during “Cisco Kid.”
After a brief intermission, Cheech and Chong returned to the stage for more classic comedy sketches including updated renditions of “Dave’s Not Here” and the “Stoned in the Car” scene from their 1978 film “Up in Smoke.” The pot jokes and references were in abundance, as was apparently the herb itself as the aroma from the crowd and exhaled clouds of smoke in the Amphitheatre increased as well.
WAR continued with two more classics “Spill The Wine,” and “Low Rider,” and with the audience already on their feet, out came blues legend Blind Melon Chitlin (Chong) to jam with the band on “Get It Legal.”
Cheech Marin’s Alice Bowie followed that up in the pink tutu for “Earache My Eye,” complete with piped in comedic crowd noise and Tommy bringing out a walker for Alice Bowie to make his way off stage with upon performance completion. Chong then put the spotlight on harmonica player Stanley Behrens, who delivered a fantastic instrumental version of “The Star Spangled Banner.”
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Cheech also had WAR’s backing on “Mexican American” and “Born In East L.A.,” as Chong and his wife danced to the beat. The band kept the feel-good vibes coming with a rendition of “Sunshine,” and the show ended on a high note as WAR performed “Why Can’t We Be Friends” with everyone on stage, each singing a chorus and putting a great evening of music and comedy to rest. There has been talks of a new Cheech and Chong movie in the works for awhile now, but regardless if that happens or not, the duo have obviously firmly imbedded themselves into our popular culture, and we are all the better for it. It was truly great to see these comedy legends still doing their thing and let’s hope with legalization seemingly around the corner in most areas of the U.S., Cheech and Chong will be there “Up In Smoke” for as long as they can be.
Thanks to Yvette Shearer/Cheech & Chong and Jessica Puchli/Nederlander
For more info on future shows at Vina Robles Amphitheatre visit their website: www.vinaroblesamphitheatre.com/concerts