Mother nature couldn't put a damper on rock 'n roll in Pittsburgh.
Despite a downpour and lightning storm causing delays for fans entering First Niagara Pavilion on Friday night, thousands of diehard Skynyrds still joined the rock 'n roll hall of fame band Lynyrd Skynyrd in a celebration of 40 years of rock 'n roll. The thunder and lightning only electrified the near sold-out crowd.
Raising a red solo cup, lead vocalist Johnny Van Zant said, "Cheers to keeping Lynyrd Skynyrd music around all these years. Lynyrd Skynyrd is celebrating 40 years and we're going strong. We love you and we want you to get hot and sweaty tonight as that's what rock 'n roll is all about. Nice to see that rock 'n roll is still alive in Pennsylvania."
But, the 40 years hasn't exactly been a smooth ride for the legendary rock 'n roll group -- a plane crash killing three band members, a 10-year hiatus and change in band members -- but as the band proved Friday, they are here to continue putting on an American rock 'n roll show like no other.
"Hey Pittsburgh. Skynyrd is in the house," Van Zant said after singing "Tuesday's Gone."
And boy, not only Skynyrd was in the house but also thousands of mid-40- to late-50-year-old fans.
Lynyrd Skynyrd exemplified what it means to be American during "Simple Man." A slideshow of soldiers played in the background -- some hugging their sons and others on the battlefield.
"We still believe that America, folks, is the greatest country in the world," Van Zant said, dedicating the song to the troops and their families -- past, present and future.
When the band performed "That Smell," singing the lyric "Can't you smell that smell?" On Friday, the answer was yes, you could smell marijuana wafting through the amphitheater.
Everyone at the XL Tour belted "Sweet Home Alabama" regardless of whether you were a diehard fan or not. The band performed 1973 hit "Freebird" as the encore.
Lynyrd Skynyrd's encore wasn't the only one during the Pittsburgh stop of the 40-year celebratory tour as the rock 'n roll band Bad Company had a two-song encore, which is unusual for an opening act.
But Bad Company wasn't just an opening act, as some fans came primarily for them. Their 55-minute set was a testament that a group can still rock the stage even 40 years after its formation. Bad Company sang "Bad Company," "Can't Get Enough," and "Shooting Star" as part of its 11-song set.
Black Stone Cherry was the first opening act and because of fans' late entry into the venue, the Kentucky rock band was the background music as everybody trickled in. Phenomenal instrumental solos dominated their set.
The XL Tour was filled with legendary rock 'n roll, American pride, friends and beer. Don't worry if you missed out on this high-energy party -- the concert was recorded live and is already available for sale. But diehard Skynyrds will not be surrounding you as you experience the sheer talent of Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Claire Aronson: email@example.com, 412-263-1964 or on Twitter @Claire_Aronson.