Review: Michael Stanley and The Resonators, Donnie Iris and The Cruisers

Michael Stanley and The Resonators. All Photos: Jim Carver
Last Friday evening, Michael Stanley and The Resonators and Donnie Iris and the Cruisers owned the stage at the Hard Rock Rocksino in Northfield Park, Ohio. Like a fine wine both bands appear to perform better with age. The sold-out show was the first of two for the most popular bands to ever grace the stages of the rust belt area.

Michael Stanley and The Resonators took to the stage with the cheers from the audience, knowing something special was about to begin. Michael and his 9- piece band of amazing talented musicians didn’t disappoint as they launched into the first of an 18 song set with  “It’s All About Tonight” swiftly followed-up with “All I Ever Wanted.”

Next, Michael Stanley and The Resonators progressed into a familiar story and fan favorite with the opening chords of “Midwest Midnight” from the “Stage Pass” album. “Midwest Midnight has to be the one song Bruce Springsteen wishes he wrote, since it permeates the feel of the midwest version of “Born To Run“. The sold-out crowd rose to their feet and the tone was set for the evening as the man still plays all the hits, you wanna’ hear!

Michael slowed things down with his beautiful rendition recorded on “The Ride” of the ballad, “To Love Somebody“(originally written by The Bee Gees in 1967). The Hard Rock Rocksino began rockin’ again when the band performed “In Between The Lines” with smoking solos from Paul Christensen on saxophone, Danny Powers (guitar) and Jennifer Lee’s improvised vocals near the end of the song. 

Michael Stanley and The Resonators followed with their rendition of Lou Reed and Jim Pepper’s composition Sweet Jane/Wichi Tai To” from “The Farrago Sessions” recording. Paul Christensen‘s soul splintering saxophone opened the intro to the ballad “Spanish Nights” as the crowd clearly approved. Marc Lee Shannon provided some beautiful play of the mandolin, accompanied by the sax and chimes sounds which added to the mood immensely.

The tempo increased with Michael and the band performing “Just Another Night in America” from the CD- “Just Another Night.” The song featured lots of tasteful guitar from Danny Powers, beautiful harmonies from Michael and Jennifer Lee and great backing vocals from Jennifer, Bob Pelander and Mr. Powers.

Michael removed his jacket as Bob Pelander on the piano and Gary Jones on the Hammond B3 began the chords to an old favorite, “Lets Get The Show On The Road“. We were treated to some chilling sax work from Paul. Witnessing Danny Powers blazing guitar solo reminded me of Carlos Santana and Rodney Psyka adding some insane percussion, building the song to a climatic ending!

Michael Stanley once again took the spotlight when he began the soft and tender ballad, “Falling In Love Again” as he let the crowd sing the 1st verse by themselves. A touching message with beautiful guitar by Michael and awesome vocals. Next, Tommy Dobeck began a familiar favorite with the groove of “In The Heartland.” 

Perhaps it was because Tommy’s drum instructor from back in the days was in attendance or it was planned, regardless; we were treated to a rare drum solo from the longest standing member of working with Michael (41 years). Following the tasty and perplexed drum solo- Tommy brought it back to the familiar groove of the slower tempo and frothy feel of the Cleveland story of spunk: “In The Heartland.  Eroc Sosinski performed some nice bass fills and provided solid work throughout the show. Again, the crowd were brought to their feet!

I quickly became a fan of the song Michael performed called “Winter“. It was as emotionally moving as anything Michael has ever written throughout his fine career and the band accompaniment was brilliant! Rosewood Bitters” was next and was spectacular with Danny providing some nice guitar work and a solo that if you closed your eyes, you’d swear Joe Walsh was onstage. Once again, Michael Stanley and Jennifer provided some lovely harmonies together. 

When Michael Stanley introduced the next song Nothings Gonna Change My Mind (written by MSB bandmate-Jonah Koslen) as Danny sang the lead vocals.

The peak of the evening hit the roof when Michael Stanley and The Resonator’s launched into “Lover.” The mood inspiring intro of the sax and guitar had the audience swaying to the beat and gleefully ignited with emotion. Some blazing sax from Paul Christensen help to elevate the popular anthem. As usual, the crowd sang along with Michael until the band stopped playing to allow the faithful to sing acapella; what is perhaps the most well known phrase in Ohio- Thank God For The Man, Who Put the White Lines On The Highway“. After the white dome stage light up the choir (audience) during their vocal solo and the song finished, Michael said: “God Bless, You Guys! 

The guitar intro to “My Town” set the concert goers into a jubilant frenzy. The tune featured the blistering  guitar solo from Mr. Danny Powers with Michael singing brilliantly accompanied by incredible backing vocals and the vocal ad-libbing by Jennifer Lee near the end of the song. As the band left the stage the encore chants began.

Michael and his band returned to the stage to feature a acoustic song entitled: “Home Tonight”  from the CD “American Road.” The touching ballad featured a nice sax solo from Paul and Jennifer Lee provided some beautiful vocals resonating with Michael’s tender vocals. Michael took a moment to address those in attendance and spoke passionately about the things that happen in your life. He spoke about how some things in life are good and the unexpected not-so good. He told us you get through the bad eventually and have to fight through the bad; by staying hopeful- one day at a time! 

Somewhere In The Night” began as a acoustic version with a piano intro by Bob Pelander with Michael singing and the fans singing the 1st verse and chorus before the entire Resonators kicked-in with the entire electric version and brought the Hard Rock Rocksino to its knees! 

Just another flawless night of music memories by  Michael Stanley and The Resonators.

Donnie Iris and The Cruisers. All Photos: Jim Carver
Donnie Iris and the Cruisers took the stage at the Hard Rock Rocksino clearly like a champ entering the ring. The confidence and exuberance displayed by this band during their set was stunning, fun and professional.

I was truly amazed by Donnie Iris’s ability to hit high notes throughout the evening, despite his age. The Cruiser sounded as good as ever during their set consisting of 9 songs. Marc Avsec was flawless on the keyboards, Kevin Valentine was  fun to watch as he displayed his drumming prowess, Marty Lee Hoenes was stellar guitar work and Paul Goll provided the solid bass to all of the songs.

Donnie Iris and the Cruisers impressive set list began with Agnes“, Do you Compute“, “That’s the Way Love Ought to Be” and “I Can’t Hear You.” It appeared some of the crowd in attendance had made the drive from Pittsburgh as many remained on their feet throughout the night. The band launched into “Love Is Like a Rock” and the crowd went ballistic. Donnie initiated a crowd sing-along during the song.

Surprisingly, the massive MTV hit video and recording of “Ah Leah” began with a acoustic introduction featuring Mark Avsec on piano and Donnie on vocals. Following the first verse and chorus (with the crowd singing in unison), Kevin Valentine ‘s floor tom sixteenth notes kicked the band into the full- blown version.

Next, Donnie and The Cruisers played the #2 Billboard hit “The Rapper“, he recorded as a member of The Jaggerz in 1969. The old song has stood the test of time as well as Donnie’s voice.

The following song was a complete unexpected surprise as Marc Avsec and the band performed a blistering version of “Hush.” Jon Lord must have been smiling down on Marc as he rocked the Hammond B3 sound throughout the Hard Rock Rocksino. Once again, the vocals were astonishing and rhythm section was superb!  

Closing out their magnificent set was a rendition of “A Little Help From My Friends” (The Animals, The Beatles, Joe Cocker). Once again, Marc Avsec cranked up the Hammond B-3 and the rest of the band performing brilliantly.

As I said earlier, Donnie amazed me with his ability to hit high notes and hold and bend the pitch resulting into what some would term cat cowls screams. The last singer I’ve ever heard being able to do this was David Byron.

Donnie Iris and the Cruisers brought an amazing show of hits, musicianship and have remained true to form as if they were “Back On The Streets”; and it’s 1980- all over again!

~Special Thanks to: Jane Carver and Kim Bose Andrews              


Products, advertisements and links on this website contain affiliate marketing agreements based on commision or sales between The Rust Belt Chronicles and third party companies or businesses. We only recommend products, brands and businesses that we strongly support. Photos used on this site are used courtesy of the original authors and in no way endorse The Rust Belt Chronicles or our opinions. Thank you.
Jim Carver About Jim Carver

Jim Carver is the President of The Rust Belt Chronicles.

In 2004, Jim graduated from North Central State College with a degree in Business Information Technology. Jim developed "Rock Lines" news report online in 2010.After a trial-run of The Rust Belt Chronicles in April of 2013, Jim decided to make his dream a reality in 2014 by re-launching The Rust Belt Chronicles.


  1. […] a sneak preview of what’s in store for […]

Speak Your Mind

Advertise With Us!

Advertise With Us!

[Read More...]