It was the old showman's strategy -- save the best for last -- and it gave the second half of the two-part Buffalo Music Awards an extra rush of excitement.
Each of the 10 former award-winning bands performing seemed more awesome than the one before, reaching a peak in Gamalon guitarist George Puleo's jam with the Tweeds, followed by an incredible display of sonic intensity by Gamalon itself.
It impressed no less a figure than Dan Dokken, the heavy metal guitarist in town early for his show tonight at Sinbads.
"They really blew me away," he told awards organizer Rick Falkowski. "They were phenomenal."
Two members of Trickster, the hot New Jersey band opening for Dan Dokken, handed out some awards. So did the California female heavy metal quartet Vixen.
Making a promotional appearance, Vixen also turned in an impressive series of semi-acoustic songs, with their drummer playing bongos. The Trickster guys joined them for a long vamp through the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil."
Most astonished winner was lounge singer Lance Diamond, who took top honors for pop male vocalist and top 40 band.
"This is one of those dreams come true," he said as he accepted the band award. "I never thought I'd win this thing."
Hall of Fame inductee Mark Dixon of Party Squad, having lost one of his dates to a Japanese-style karaoke singalong show, used his acceptance speech to urge that karaoke "be kept in the happy hour and let Buffalo musicians work at night."
Also getting a plaque for the first time were Rick and Marsha Falkowski. Presented by Don Tomasulo of WGR-FM (97 Rock) on behalf of the music community, it thanked them for 10 years of support and friendship.
Monday night's awards (winners and runners-up):
Original rock band -- Rockcandy, Izzy Rex.
Rock band -- Trolls, Widow.
New rock band -- Wunderland, Silent Scream.
Classic rock band -- Jamie Moses Band, Fat Brat.
Classic top 40 band -- Party Squad, Only Humen.
Blues band -- Willie May Band, Soul Invaders.
Tribute band -- Ozone Rangers, Ice Nine.
Oldies band -- Be Bops, Johnny Buick & the Fabulous Dynaflows.
Pop rock band -- 33 West, Brittany.
Top 40 band -- Lance Diamond Show, Skin Tight.
Original band -- Beat City, Great Train Robbery.
New original band -- Paisley Tease, Jazzabels.
Hard rock band -- White Lies, Dragon Fly.
Solo/acoustic acts -- Joe Head, the Dooleys.
Group vocals -- The Road, Only Humen.
Rock male vocals -- Joie Anes (Rockcandy); Calvin Nichols (Trolls/Lost Angels).
Rock female vocals -- Donna Palmer (Widow); Dee Mari, (Silent Scream).
Pop male vocals -- Lance Diamond (Lance Diamond Show); Billy Martin (Hot Sauce).
Original male vocalist -- Terry Sullivan (Terry & the Headhunters); James Stark (Beat Goes Bang).
Original female vocalist -- Sue Kincaid (Beat City); Michel Weber (solo).
Buffalo Music Awards
Second half of the 10th annual celebration of local music.
Monday night in Manikins, 1620 Niagara Falls Blvd.