Published on January 20th, 2013

Live Review: TONY HARNELL & WILDFLOWERS FEATURING BUMBLEFOOT at The Cutting Room, New York City, January 18 2013.


“WITH great beards, comes great responsibility,” Guns N’Roses guitarist Bumblefoot said during this loose, uplifting acoustic set at a new Big Apple venue.

And the hirsute virtuoso certainly took on plenty of responsibility in his first official show with the outfit fronted by former TNT vocalist Tony Harnell, a man blessed with tonsils that don’t seem to have been restrained in any way by the passing of the years.

Harnell and Bumblefoot – real name Ron Thal – first met 20 years ago and discussed forming a band after the former’s departure from TNT. And Harnell hinted during the show it was his own apathy towards the alliance that brought about its swift demise.

“Then I started hearing about this Bumblefoot thing and throught ‘I know that guy’,” Harnell told a seated audience of around 400 in the back room of the Cutting Room, a former clothes factory.

“And this guy could play. It was Ron. I thought ‘I fucked up, I fucked up badly here.”

Thal, who rarely speaks during GN’R shows, then added: “Nah, I was a douche back then.” Harnell: “So was I, we could have called ourselves the Two Douches”.

The Wildflowers are completed by Harnell’s wife Amy on vocals and percussion and Cassandra Sotos on 7-string electric violin. They play originals, classic rock covers and quite a few TNT songs, such as “10,000 Lovers (In One)” and “Northern Lights”

But here’s where the addition of Thal made things interesting tonight. Clearly a heavy metal anorak, he knew the words to decades-old TNT songs that Harnell had forgotten.

And Bumblefoot is also blessed with an operatic metal voice that left Harnell saying at once stage: “What that shows is that you don’t need me here. We will call this, in future, ‘Bumblefoot Perfoms TNT”.

Thal, a New York native, also had his head with an acoustic version of Iron Maiden’s “Number Of The Beast”, various early Judas Priest tracks and even “Hit The Road Jack”.

The guitarist apparently regarded a Wildflowers gig he attended as “the best acoustic show I have ever seen”. But here was a soaring, astonishing rock voice and an acouplished stadium rocker restraining themselves somewhat in the unplugged format. “Well-known musicians” have apparently been tapped for an electric version of the band and this reviewer anxiously awaits that outfit’s debut.

This was more a loungeroom celebration of heavy metal than a stiffly-delivered acoustic rock show. Sometimes it is as if hard rock’s gliteratti are just waiting out a recession, hunkering down with acoustic guitars, PledgeMusic and supergroups, ready for the glory days to return.

Mike Tramp is probably right, they’ll never come again. But nights like tonight remind us why we’re hunkering down right alongside our favourite musicians. Being forgotten, overlooked and even ignored has never been more fun.



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