Gig review: CATHOUSE LIVE at Verizon Amphitheatre, Irvine Meadows
August 15, 2015
MICHAEL from Iowa believes he can save the music industry.
Skye and Sean from Nebraska are going to be married on-site by former MTV host Riki Rachtman. Dean and Mandy from Melbourne and Sydney are upset their passes don’t work.
Adele and Jim from Birmingham ended up at pool party with Ron Jeremy on their second-ever night in America, after bumping into Sebastian Bach.
“I call us RCAs,” says James, of London, the next day in an Uber to the airport “Rockers of a Certain Age.
“We can afford to fly places for gigs, we can often combine these trips with work, we know what we like.”
James also has a plan to save the music industry. While the bill for the first Cathouse Live festival, named after an infamous late 1980s Hollywood rock club, may appear nostalgic and not much more, the real progress is being made among the 3000 or so fans who made the trek to the soon-to-be demolished Orange County venue.
James believes he can make a UK-based RCA group an influential force in the rock world, helping festivals make more educated choices regarding line-ups and giving artists better information about their own fan-bases.
Michael – who pretty much travels the planet attending rock festivals and has made some influential friends – says all free music should be accompanied by video that includes advertising. He already has a US patent for the app.
While most of the bands at Irvine Meadows play sets that are a little bereft of new ideas, the passion they instilled in the RCAs years ago is flowering into concepts that may arrest the slide of recorded music – and those very acts – into the ghetto.
Like the crowd, today’s artists are a diverse lot with only the period of time in which they shone (some only faintly) bringing them together. New act the Aviators play chunky hard rock and sound a notch above your garden variety support band.
Bulletboys, from the Van Halen party-rock school, have an excellent new album but in 45 degree heat on the main stage, Marq Torein and his current line-up stick mainly to old stuff. Hard to think about anything else but hydration – the conditions are so trying some fans head home within hours of walking through the gates.
Back on the smaller stage, Little Caesar belt out a set of stellar hard rock that should have made them world famous. Ron Young’s outfit includes a recent, sardonic reflection on three decades in the industry, “Hard Rock Hell”
“Shit bands thrive, and Bon Scott dies, there aint no justice in the music world”
Jetboy frontman Mickey Finn doesn’t seem like a nostalgic kind of chap and the Bay Area heroes’ set was vital and exciting, with “Feel The Shake” as forceful as ever.
On the main stage – which has a revolving floor that allows one act to set up while the other is still playing and is constantly full of people watching from the side, creating a nightclub vibe – Trixter, Black ‘N Blue and Autograph perform big-chorus pop metal – some still with big hair, others without.
Things start to get more eclectic with the entrance of Junkyard, denim-clad street-rock purveyors of the late eighties who seem in such a hurry to play that their first three songs are performed on fast-forward. Is it possible to get goosebumps in these oppressive conditions, without it being a sign of impending unconsciousness? Yes, during “Simple Man”.
Saigon Kick are, frankly, a grunge band – and a damn good one. This is credible, serious, dense metal – the dichotomy being that their recently-departed drummer Phil Varone loved living up to the goofy Sunset Strip stereotype by shooting home-made porn.
In terms of recorded output, LA Guns are the best band on tonight’s bill. But they need an axe-slinger, not a converted frontman like Michael Grant, on lead guitar. Right now, LA Guns sound like a cover band.
As Faster Pussycat prepare for their semi-circle to swing into place from backstage, iconic singer Taime Downe dashes back to his dressing-room, leaving bandmates stunned. He’s off to get a skull-adored parasol.
But of course.
This probably the most momentous FP show in 20 years as former members Eric Stacy, Greg Steele and Brent Muscat join them on stage for “Bathroom Wall”
Sebastian Bach’s sound is terrible – just drums and vocals at first. Bach’s overbearing personality puts everything else during his show in the shade – most notably the music – although “I Remember You” is a predicable highlight as the heat fades and the phones come out.
The sublime set from Cinderella front-man Tom Keifer was the indisputable highlight of the day, from this reviewer’s point of view. Keifer’s band, ostensibly, IS Cinderella now – just as heavy as that group with the added dimension of his outstanding solo record, The Way Life Goes.
One feels sorry for the other members of Cinderella when you see their songs performed so well in their absence and their frontman garnering such an adoring response.
Whether you enjoyed Extreme performing Extreme II: Pornograffitti in its entirety comes down to how much you liked that record. It’s the third time this year’ I’ve seen the show and it’s certainly energetic and technically amazing, even if some of the songs don’t move me too much.
And so to the final act, “Gilby Clark’s All Star Jam”. There were serious rumours that Guns N’Roses were going to reform for this festival finale.
Well, we did get Steel Panther’s Michael Starr – sans jokes – performing vocal duties on “Mr Brownstone”
But as it eventuates, the guest of honour is Ace Frehley, who is accompanied by Biohazard’s Evan Seinfeld, Bach, Clark and drummer Matt Starr for “Shock Me” and “Deuce”.
Frehley, of course, has been touring recently. His appearance was heart-warming and entertaining, but not paradigm altering.
These days, it’s those in the audience who are having the real adventures. – STEVE MASCORD