JUNE 24th 2019

Review by Ruben Mosqueda

Sammy Hagar & The Circle were formed by Hagar and bassist Michael Anthony to play the back catalog of Van Halen ‘Hagar’ fronted material as well, as Hagar solo, Chickenfoot and Montrose classics. The duo brought drummer Jason Bonham and guitarist Vic Johnson on board to round out the band. Johnson is underrated, he’s been Hagar’s right hand man since his departure from Van Halen in 1997, where he has remained to this day.  The inclusion of Bonham and Johnson expanded the catalog to include Led Zeppelin and The Waboritas tunes.  The Circle released a live album in 2015 ‘At Your Service,’ which is a collection of performances from their inaugural tour, the record is raw, energetic and captures the vibe of a live show. ‘At Your Service’ showcases the band’s chops and choice cuts from their past, it was unclear if this was going to move forward, or  simply remain as a ‘glorified jam band.’  

Over the past year, Hagar has hinted that there be an all original material from The Circle, this was move was facilitated by the lack of interest in the [Chickenfoot] single “Divine Termination” from their premature ‘best of’ album in 2017. Fast forward to 2019, considering The Circle wasn’t performing original material and Hagar has completed his transformation into hard rock’s answer to Jimmy Buffet, I was a bit concerned if the material would essentially become the ‘second coming’ of The Waboritas. Sure, they were loose and quirky at times, but also goofy and cringy, as well.

The debut album titled, ‘Space Between’ is a concept record about money and how the abundance of it changes you and how losing it all changes you for the better.  Yes that’s right, it’s a concept record, from ‘The Red Rocker’ and Co.  It’s a fantastic album from beginning to end. The standouts on ‘Space Between’ are, “Devil Came To Philly,” “Full Circle Jam [Chump Change],” the repurposed “No Worries” which appeared [then as a new track] on a Hagar compilation album, here in a glorious electric version, the Montrose plagiarization of the “I Got The Fire” riff on “Trust Fund Baby,” and “Affirmation,” lead the pack as album highlights, however the entire album is a fun, diverse journey, that frankly surprised me, given Hagar’s direction into ‘lite rock’ over the years. ‘Space Between’ will make many a top 10 album at the end of 2019.