What more famous place is there than the Whisky a Go Go on the Sunset Strip? What a great feeling to be at one of the most famous venues in rock and roll. Founded originally as a “discotheque” featuring short skirted “go-go” dancers in 1964, the Whisky has seen the likes of THE BYRDS, ALICE COOPER, and THE DOORS (a house band at one time). This is also where METALLICA discovered Cliff Burton.
UK band GIRLSCHOOL, just off of their short European tour, has teamed with Sweden’s CRUCIFIED BARBARA, OLD JAMES and VELVET BLACK (Both from Canada). GIRLSCHOOL has recorded their thirteenth album that’s in the mixing stage, is due out soon, and will be titled Guilty As Sin. CRUCIFIED BARBARA recently released their fourth album In The Red, which last year won the Swedish metal album of the year award. Way to go CB!!! OLD JAMES and VELVET BLACK are both very solid bands as well.
Warming up the amps were Hailey Hayes’ band featuring Roni Lee who is a well-known southern California guitarist and second act on the bill NINTH CIRCLE showed their guitar and musical mastery. Beginning their Whisky set, three-piece VELVET BLACK brought in their bluesy rock and roll, with a very tight performance with original songs including “The Only One” and brilliant bluesy-ZEPPELIN-esue “Rise and Shine. They were an excellent choice to kick off the night. OLD JAMES (Brian Stephenson (Lead Vocals/Guitar) Andy Thompson (Lead Guitar) Chris Stephenson (Drums/Backing Vocals) Ben Johnston (Bass Guitar), brought their best game on Friday night. They energized the stage with their David Lee Roth meets RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS-style of rock and roll. Brian Stephenson made full use of the stage in bare feet, showing off some acrobatic stage moves. Very tight musicians, they opened and closed with originals “Just Be” and “Don’t Put it on Me.” Watch for both of these Canadian teams to be rising in the ranks.
So now we come to Swedish metal rockers, CRUCIFIED BARBARA. The Barbs (as they are affectionately called by their international fan club “The Crucifiers”) first toured North America two years ago with countrymen CRASHDIET. I was fortunate enough to see it and to me this is a much better pairing, the bands seem to mesh better. The Barbs took the stage and introduced two new songs, blowing the doors off with “Shadows” and “To Kill a Man”…what a great beginning! Bandmates Mia Coldheart (lead vocal/lead guitar), Klara Force (backing vocals/rhythm guitar), Ida Evileye (vocals and bass) and killer drummer Niki Wicked gave the Whisky crowd, which now packed the room, a total of five songs from the new disc including “Lunatic #1” and “I Sell My Kids for Rock N’ Roll”, three from their last album Midnight Chase and two from older records. CRUCIFIED BARBARA….they are making a huge impression in metal. My personal experience is that once you get a taste of the Barbs, you typically can’t let go of them.
Well now, the headliner, GIRLSCHOOL. Around since 1978 and longtime friends of the Los Angeles music scene since the early 80’s many friends and fans were on hand to welcome them back to LA. Arriving only hours prior to set time, the girls came off a long road trip from warm Vegas to chilly, England-like weather on the Strip. GIRLSCHOOL (Kim McAuliffe (vocals/rhythm), Enid Williams (vocals/bass), Denise Dufort (backing vocals/drums) and Jackie Chambers (backing vocals/lead guitar) exploded off the setlist with “Demolition”, Chambers repeatedly playing the intro but she is nowhere to be seen. After 30 seconds or so, the air becomes electrified with anticipation and here she comes, down the stairs to the stage playing her guitar and energizes the crowd.
Encouraging the fans from the stage, the rest of the band appears and minus a few technical difficulties (such is live music) the first note rattles the windows and they explode into that signature song. The group brought a fantastic excitement to the night. Starting their set after midnight, they showed no sign of exhaustion and sucked the remaining adrenaline from the crowd. At 12:30 the place exploded with the gals from the UK.
They debuted one of their new songs “Take it Like a Band” and are selling a US limited five-song CD Propaganda featuring that track as well as other new ones “Come the Revolution”, “Staying Alive” (BEE GEES cover…..with a slight GIRLSCHOOL twist) and remakes of “Kick it Down” and “Watch Your Step”. Full of energy and being the professionals that they are, the Londoners played into the night and quite literally shut the place down. At 1:45, the Whisky officially began moving fans and bands out the door.
Musicians and fans gathered outside in the cool L.A. air on Sunset Boulevard; everyone was tired and catching their breath. It was very obvious everyone just had their arses kicked, but in an awesome way because they all had a big grin and it felt complete.
With only eleven U.S. dates remaining on this tour my advice is this: Catch it where you can and when you can. Drive wherever you have to; it is totally worth every hour of sleep you will miss. Sleeping is overrated anyway.
Cheers you lot!!
LIVE WORDS AND PHOTOS: MARK EHRLICH