When the stars align just right, take advantage of whatever comes your way. You might get lucky in love, lucky in business or lucky at sports. If you’re a music lover, though, and were fortunate enough to be at South Side Ballroom in Dallas last Thursday, you were lucky enough to see several great musicians jam the hell out of a guitar throwdown.
The super group the announcer spontaneously nicknamed “The Five Bad Asses” put on a show that brought out tremendous energy from the semi-private party that turned the venue into an intimate setting. Making their way onstage to thunderous applause were lead guitarists Steve Stevens of BILLY IDOL, Billy Duffy of THE CULT, bassist Robert DeLeo of STONE TEMPLE PILOTS, drummer Matt Sorum of GUNS N’ ROSES, THE CULT and VELVET REVOLVER, and vocalist Franky Perez of APOCALYPTICA.
The 5 BA’s didn’t waste any time as Perez was in excellent voice on REVOLVER’S “Slither.” Stevens did what he did best and electrified the crowd with a piercing solo. Franky displayed tremendous stage presence and Sorum pounded a hellacious beat on “She Sells Sanctuary” by THE CULT.
The crowd cheered for “Sex Type Thing” by STP and sang the refrain. A prancing Perez then asked the audience to sing parts of “Roadhouse Blues” by THE DOORS and they were happy to oblige. When the crowd wasn’t singing, they were swaying to Duffy’s solo.
DEEP PURPLE got their due on “Highway Star” and the dual leads complemented each other as if they had been playing together all their lives. Sorum was playful behind the drum kit, but still used the skins to add another dimension while DeLeo played an aggressive bass. The fans erupted into a tremendous ovation that somehow got louder when Stevens began the first few notes of “White Wedding.” Obviously, he played his usual scintillating solo, some of it behind his back, for his band’s giant hit song. Sorum again provided the energy for “Fire Woman” while Duffy nailed the solo for the big song from his band.
Matt then talked about how he should form a new band named THE EAGLES or FOO FIGHTERS as the group was going to let the drummer sing a song. He laid down a captivating beat, then delivered a strong performance on “Ace of Spades” by MOTÖRHEAD. It was time for another STP song and Franky skillfully covered “Vasoline” to the audience’s delight. Stevens added a story about living in his mother’s basement, watching I Love Lucy on the only channel he could get and coming up with a set of chords he took to his boss. The crowd then went apeshit at the unique beginning of “Rebel Yell” and almost drowned out the vocals while basking in the famous solo.
The clapping died down enough for Perez to add, “How about some blues?” as they began playing “Going Down,” originally released by THE ALABAMA STATE TROOPERS and covered by every blues artist from B.B. KING to LED ZEPPELIN. In true blues fashion, DeLeo got to shine on bass while everyone got to solo before the set-ending jam led by a hard rocking Sorum.
After a break to replenish their energy, the 5 BA’s came back out with REVOLVER’S “Fall To Pieces.” Stevens sparkled on his solo while Perez danced in his skull T-shirt. The distinctive beginning of “Baba O’Riley” whipped the fans into a frenzy while Steven’s arm-whip guitar strokes were reminiscent of Pete Townsend. They stayed true to THE WHO song and it was an instant classic.
The saved one of the best for last, though, as Stevens sounded exactly like Jimmy Page during “Whole Lotta Love.” The ZEPPELIN mega-hit also featured a terrific solo by Duffy and the expected crowd participation. The accompanying jam had the fans head-bobbing and cheering like the original was performing.
The artists complemented each other better than expected as it was a one-off show I had the chance to see part of the sound check and saw them learning some of the songs on the fly and was duly impressed by how quickly the grasped the new (to them) music. They played the songs as they were written and performed each one with the passion and energy it deserved.
Damon Johnson, of BLACK STAR RIDERS and late of THIN LIZZY, preceded the one-time super group. His 11-song set captured his past and present as five songs came from his long-time Dallas band, BROTHER CANE, including the hits “I Lie In The Bed I Make” and the rousing set-closer, “Got No Shame.” Long-time Dallasites also remembered “Hard Act To Follow” and “20/20 Faith.”
He opened with his own song, “Just Move On” and mastered the fret on “Dead.” He wondered how the crowd could stand his out-of-tune guitar, but the songs sounded damn good to everyone listening. His stage awareness showed love of performing and added immensely to the music. “The Killer Instinct” from BSR showed off more of his guitar expertise with its faster beat and the long-strings sound that captivated the crowd. A cover of RED HALO’S “Amphetamine” with its hard-edge beat gave the audience another side of the former ALICE COOPER guitarist.
The loudest cheers came for the two THIN LIZZY songs he played. Everyone loved “Johnny The Fox Meets Jimmy The Weed” as he said the band won’t play it in concert, so “F… them, I’ll play it myself!” Naturally, the crowd was almost orgasmic for “Boys Are Back In Town,” for being an all-time great song. The fans jumped around and joined in on the lyrics as Damon moved to the side to pose for pictures from the admiring audience.
The intimate, yet overly enthusiastic crowd cheered all night for the tremendous music they heard. The acoustics made every note sound crisp and clear. The staff was helpful, as always, and took care of everyone who came to listen or play. Catch all or any of the artists when they tour alone or with their bands. You’ll be in for a night of tremendous music.
LIVE IMAGES: GUZPIX
LIVE WORDS: DAVID SIMERS