Every since first being introduced to this band 10 years ago, Captain Beyond has become a huge part of my life. As corny as it sounds, their music was and still is life changing to me. It’s almost as if the music that this band created together took on an entity of its own that was much bigger and much more important than any individual. In a nutshell, Captain Beyond is Captain Beyond. It’s supreme, it’s out there, and it’s the master of all things cosmically awesome. Captain Beyond is also a band that I never thought I would see live in a million years. Well, I should know by now to never say never.
In 2017, out of the blue in my Facebook feed, I saw a post that simply read, “CAPTAIN BEYOND IS NOW!” What did this mean? Well, it meant just what it said. Legendary drummer and founding member Bobby Caldwell announced that he had assembled a new Captain Beyond line up and was taking it to the road for a very under the radar tour.
Hearing this filled me with a feeling of nervousness. Rod Evans (original vocalist) was out of the biz and has been for decades, Lee Dorman (bass) and Rhino (guitar) have both passed away (RIP), and Caldwell, even though he was one of the key songwriters was the only original member. I mean, how could this be good? I feared for the legacy of these great songs and wondered would this be something that would tarnish things? Would this band be able to live up to the epic standards that were set in stone over 45 years ago?
The energy inside of The Earl in East Atlanta Village was off the charts. It was electrifying. The nearly ¾ full room was abuzz about Captain Beyond. Looking around the crowd, I saw an audience ranging in age from early 20s to folks in their 50s and 60s. Everyone seemed giddy with anticipation and then someone took the stage and announced, “Atlanta, GA. The Earl! From 1972 to 2017, put your hands together. Finally. Captain Beyond. The place just erupted and then all of the sudden drew to a silence as drummer Bobby Caldwell worked his magic on his hi-hat cymbals before easing into a steady groove that worked into this slow blues instrumental jam.
At this point, I was on the edge as guitarist Jamie Holka unleashed this shredding beast that had everyone nodding with approval. The groove just continued to grow and then developed into the cosmic instrumental “Oblivion” from Dawn Explosion. Captain Beyond which consists of Jeff Artabasy – bass, Jamie Holka – guitar, Don Bonzi – guitar, and Simon Lind – vocals/guitar was definitely firing on all cylinders but it was “Distant Sun” where the band achieved lift off and all of the sudden the cosmic journey was underway.
Very nonchalantly, Caldwell thanked everyone and said, “This is one from the 1st album called “Dancing Madly Backwards.”” The place erupted once again and there wasn’t a still body in the room. Even some old dude literally danced madly backward through the crowd. The guitar team of Holka, Bonzi, and Lind was something spectacular to behold and Simon Lind’s vocals were absolutely blowing my mind. While he was totally pulling off the Rod Evans style vocals, he definitely had his own voice and it was perfectly suited for these songs. “Everything’s a Circle” from Sufficiently Breathless was a great example of how much feeling and emotion was felt by Lind.
Bobby then announced that the next song was a song that was released as a single and humorously stated: “I think it even cracked the top 500.” “Sufficiently Breathless” brought yet another huge roar as it filled the room. I felt the goosebumps fill my entire body and even a got a bit choked up. The song sounded every bit as beautiful as I hoped it would live and it was honestly a song that I was not expecting to hear live. “Thousand Days of Yesterdays/Frozen Over” kicked things back into gear and the energy coming from the stage was unbelievable. The interplay between Lind, Holka, and Bonzi took these songs to a whole other level and made it possible to hear these songs the very way they were recorded yet each of them added their own style into. This was really fucking amazing to hear and see at the same time.
Holka’s take on the Jimmy Page instrumental “White Summer” was a great way to break things up a bit and by doing it in a Captain Beyond fashion took this song to all new heights. A highlight of the show was when Bobby Caldwell himself took center stage and thanked everyone for coming out. From there, he took over lead vocals on the last song that he ever wrote with Rhino (Night Train Calling) and a mind-melting rendition of “Starglow Energy” which he credited to being written by the great Rod Evans. Caldwell’s vocals were so heartfelt and full of emotion and I had no clue that the dude could fucking wail like that. We were all just astounded.
The show continued on and song after song I found myself absolutely mesmerized, dumbfounded, in awe, and whatever else you can say to describe it. After the band introductions, Captain Beyond that took this cosmic journey into full throttle hyperspace as they delivered, “Raging River of Fear”, “Mesmerization Eclipse”, and the instrumentals “Saturn” and “Harlem.” As “Harlem” drew to a close Caldwell yelled “THREE FOUR!” and the band slammed right into “I Can’t Feel Nothing (Part 2). This song was so fucking intense that it felt as if this ship that we were all riding in was crashing back into the atmosphere a full speed and then all of the sudden, BAM. The journey was over.
As the band left the stage shaking hands and thanking people, I literally felt exhausted. This was This was not a mere cover band or a bunch of guys assembled as a quick cash grab. This was and is Captain Beyond. While most of the original members may be gone, these guys that I was seeing and hearing played these songs with all the passion, the fire, the heart, and the soul of someone who actually wrote and recorded these numbers. It really was a truly magical thing to behold and everyone that was present in that room will attest to this very statement.
I feel like I could go on forever talking about this performance. Captain Beyond blew my mind, filled my heart with love, and melted my goddamn face clean off. Just typing this has me smiling ear to ear as I am still feeling myself hanging onto every note, every chord, and every lyric. Captain Beyond is back folks and there’s nothing more I can say. If you have your doubts, put them aside because you will not be disappointed. Folks, Captain Beyond is now and Captain Beyond is forever.