Richie Kotzen was back in NYC for an incredible night of music. We caught him once before back in July of 2009 and were excited to see him do his thing at the Highline Ballroom this evening. The amazing guitarist was once a member of Poison and now does a completely different kind of thing that you have to hear to believe. This show would be a continuing part of his “Peace Sign” tour.
Artist: Richie Kotzen
Venue: Highline Ballroom (New York, NY)
Label: Independent Artist
Before I even begin this one the readers should be aware that it is by no means a Metal or Hard Rock show report and instead one that lines out how easily we can all expand upon our interests in music of many different flavors. Don’t get me wrong because I love my Metal, but let’s face it, even Heavy Metal and Hard Rock music found its beginnings in other genres. That’s what made this evening’s fun so interesting for me and my friends as tonight’s show was a solo performance by guitarist Richie Kotzen and his band. You may or may not know the musician’s name and that is understandable with the vast amount of axe slingers out there but truth be told, Richie is one that has successfully managed to step out of the role that many first learned his name from and been delivering amazing music for years. Like many fans, I first heard Richie’s name when he stepped into the guitar role in Glam Rock’s own Poison. With the band he delivered the album “Native Tongue” that found some proclaiming featured the best guitar work in the band to date. After moving on from the band he worked with Mr. Big for a few years and albums before switching gears to more soulful Blues-based sense. Trust me in this one folks, its very, very good. Just about a year ago he performed at B.B. King Blues Club for a filled sit down crowd and now tonight would be the Highline Ballroom’s turn.
Richie has some important people behind him and once again we found radio & television personality Eddie Trunk stepping up to do the intros. This time he brought one of the co-hosts in Jim Florentine. The setup of the room was a little bit strange as they had a mix of tables and standing room but it was not cordoned off as in the sister club and instead mixed together which made it a little difficult to enjoy depending on where you were situated. Richie hit the stage not long after 8pm and it was just pure bliss from beginning to end. Of course you need to like this kind of stuff and be prepared to let the music being played take your mind and spirit elsewhere. This difference in the musical head was very important for many in the room as we had only lost the legendary Ronnie James Dio about ten days prior to this appearance. Needless to say the Heavy Metal fans of the world were still numb and seeking solace of some kind to better make sense of the tragic rift in the musical fabric we support. Richie’s show was a continuation of his “Peace Sign” tour which began in 2009 for the album that bears the same name. Richie sings and plays the guitar in his group and is backed by the talented Daniel Pearson on bass and Demian Arriaga on drums.
Admittedly I am not up to speed on every single tune that Richie has delivered over the years and that makes sense since he’s recorded something like twenty albums and yet despite this being the case you are instantly drawn into the material from the moment he begins to play. That made even the newest of fans feel like they belonged and once Richie began you could hear a pin drop until it was time to scream and applaud. He would open up with “Losing My Mind” which I enjoyed and as far as his set list composition was concerned would place five of “Peace Signs” eleven numbers around the set. There were two instances were he coupled them up but they were not delivered one after the other on the whole. The show was not one about talking too much and instead one that just chose to hypnotize your music senses but when he did speak he was very humble and appreciative. About two thirds into the set he said that the next song was dedicated to someone who really helped and supported him over the years and sent it out to Bret Michaels. He cited how Bret had been going through a lot these last few weeks and this was true as a number of health concerns plagued the singer and some of them were very close calls. The song would be “Stand” from the “Native Tongue” album mentioned earlier, and sadly Bret would not make a surprise appearance. That would have been super cool considering the singer was in town and had just won Donald Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” this past Sunday. I really liked hearing this tune reworked in this fashion and perhaps a day will come where he and Bret will revisit the entire recording in this manner. Keeping it different is what keeps music so interesting. The lengthy set continued along with Richie finally delivering the title track from his latest album and the rousing “Paying Dues” before it was time to send the crowd home. “Remember” slowed it down one more time before Hendrix’s “All Along The Watchtower” brought down the venue. I know that you are ready to correct me about the Bob Dylan penned tune, but Kotzen seemed to be paying homage to the guitar wizard with his rendition and that one is the most known of them all anyway.
There was a special meet and greet package available for this show but I am not sure if it took place before the gig or immediately after. I arrived just as he was being announced and left immediately after the lights came up. The show also found a couple of the areas Metal guitarists present as both Jack Frost and Joe Stump were there to enjoy themselves. Richie’s material is great and I think the next step would be for bands like the Black Crowes or a similar Blues-based Rock and Roll outfit to take him on the road with them as direct support. He would totally impress their audiences and it would increase his appeal across the board. This was totally a great night and a show I recommend for all must fans that keep an open mind should he return any time soon. This gig gave everyone their money’s worth and lasted about 2.25 hours.
1. Losing My Mind
2. A Love Divine
3. Fooled Again
5. Best Of Times *
6. Bad Things
8. Larger Than Life *
9. Long Way From Home *
11. Everything Good
12. Stand (Poison)
13. You Can’t Save Me
14. Doin’ What The Devil Says To Do
15. Peace Sign *
16. Paying Dues *
18. All Along The Watchtower
Official Website: http://www.richiekotzen.com