Artist: Ronnie Montrose
Venue: B.B. King Blues Club (New York, NY)
Opener: The Lizards
It’s a rainy Thursday in NYC and I am off to B.B. King Blues Club for a night of Rock. Tonight it was going to be Ronnie Montrose (I had just been here two nights ago for Uli Jon Roth so the surroundings were more than familiar). The show started off with The Lizards who would lay down a tight set of original bluesy American Hard Rock. A well executed blend of elements from 70’s and 80’s Hard Rock and Metal, sounding vaguely familiar, yet still fresh. The group is powerfully driven by drummer Bobby Rondinelli (Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult) and along with bassist Randy Pratt, they laid down a tight, dynamic foundation. The Lizards are a solid band who could easily get a great groove going.
The point man of the sonic attack is guitarist Patrick Klein who fires off some tasty bluesy leads, with an expressive vibrato to go along with solid riffing. Topping it off is Mike DiMeo; a soulful singer with a killer Heavy Metal scream. The front man, who formerly led Metal superstars Riot, also adds some tasteful keyboard work to the bands music. The amount of talent in this band is impressive. Their set had a range of songs from riff rockers, funky bluesy rock to dark moody and evil.
I thought The Lizards were a great match to get things started for Headliner Montrose.
Montrose – of course is led by Ronnie Montrose, a versatile guitarist who has worked with a diverse variety of musicians including Herbie Hancock, Van Morrison, Boz Scaggs, & Edgar Winter Group (where you probably have heard him on the classic rock instrumental “Frankenstein”). He is also known most importantly from his self-named band Montrose, a now legendary 70’s Hard Rock band that helped launch the career of singer Sammy Hagar.
Ronnie was energetic as he kicked off the show with “Rock The Nation” and it is obvious that he takes the title seriously. Visibly enjoying himself Ronnie fired out muscular riffs and expressive leads as soon as the show started. He is backed by a lean, mean band consisting of Jimmy DeGrasso on drums, (Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osbourne, Megadeth), and Dave Ellefson (Megadeth, F5) on bass. DeGrasso & Ellefson worked well together and gave the songs the power they deserve. Which is what I would expect from them, considering they played together in Megadeth and are seasoned professionals. Montrose’s playing was dynamic, potent and blues infused with a tasty hint of jazz. It is great when you experience a player who can really express themselves through their instrument. Singer Keith St. John (Burning Rain) impressively handled the vocals with power and soul. He also did an excellent job with songs originally sung by Sammy Hagar and was very simply “on the money”.
Between the songs I could hear the loyal fans yelling out the name of their favorite song. To which Ronnie replied, “We’ll get to ’em all my brother” And he did. Well… maybe not every song, but all the classic Montrose rockers like “Space Age Sacrifice”, “Rock Candy”, “Space Station #5”, and as an encore “Bad Motor Scooter” where Ronnie jammed out some revved up blues /rock slide playing. The band was tight, powerful and sounded great which made the end result totally kick ass. It was Classic American Hard Rock that on this fully enjoyable night seemed to deliver the thunder much louder than the storm did all day.
1. Rock The Nation
2. 20 Flight Rock
3. Good Rockin’ Tonight
4. 1 Thing on My Mind
5. Space age Sacrifice
6. I got the Fire
7. Make it Last
8. I Don’t Want It
9. Drum Solo
10. Rock Candy
11. Space Station #5
12. Bad Motor Scooter