Authorized Bootleg: Live At Winterland, San Francisco, CA - Mar 7, 1976
Less than 18 months before their tragic 1977 plane crash, Lynyrd Skynyrd brought the southland’s summery warmth to San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom, replete with sultry backing singers the Honkettes. “Cry For The Bad Man” kickstarts the show with gritty southern rock aplomb as twangy guitars and grinding organs make way for Ronnie Van Zant’s unmistakable drawl. The foreboding “Searchin’” is much looser than the recorded version, but it still boogies hard here as does the guitar heavy version of “I Got The Same Old Blues.” Of course, fan favorites shine brightest here, most notably “Saturday Night Special” which utilizes then state-of-the-art synthesizers adding a layer of cosmic cool. You can almost hear fathoms of butane lighters flicking during the intros to epic ballads “Tuesday’s Gone” and “Free Bird.” But “Sweet Home Alabama” takes the cake (or cornbread, rather) with its pounding piano and straight diss to Neil Young, which evokes a surprising chorus of hollering from the audience. As live recordings go, this one sounds taped right off the mixing board.