Chickenfoot + Red White & Blues
Saturday 14th January 2012
Brixton Academy, London
Following their gig in Manchester on Thursday, the Chickenfoot European Road Test Show SatNav found its way to an expectant Brixton Academy on Saturday Night. Dipping their toes into the London Tequila, were they a self-proclaimed Cabo Wabo jamming outfit who 'just happen to be in other groups' - with a world-class guitarist thrown in for good measure - or were they the real deal 'Supergroup' - a tag I suspect that their foot soldiers prefer. Indeed on the night were they a rock marriage made in that even bigger rock club in the sky or were they, as their disparaging name suggests - simply chickens**t?
A disastrous week at WRC Towers had resulted in Wrinkly crying off due to a prolapsed disc (ouch) and AJ (who was still recovering from laser eye surgery) ending up with his special edition 'Montrose' WRC t-shirt being delivered to Lincolnshire by mistake. Nothing to do with the morphine Wrinkly assures me! Anyway, Wrinkly The Silver stepped up to the plate to deputise for him - Wrinkly's miserable week being complete with the news that one of the stand out bands at 2011 Hard Rock Calling - Red White & Blues (RW&B) - were Chickenfoot's support band. "F**k .... Arrrrggghhh ...." was an understandable response from the wrinkly one!
Similar to Chickenfoot, it's an irony that lead guitarist Myke Gray is also a member of another rock band - Skin - who so impressed at High Voltage in 2011. With Matti Alfonzetti, formerly of Jagged Edge & Skintrade, on vocals, Adam Wardle on guitar and Darren Lamberton on drums, we knew that these guys guaranteed 100% Pure Rock & Roll and they sure delivered. Showcasing their first album 'Shine' - the highlights of the night were 'Stand Up For Rock 'N Roll', 'Red, White & Blues', and the stand-out title track 'Shine'. Superb. Of course the dilemna for RW&B is future direction given the time demanded of Gray by Skin.
The same can be said of course of Chickenfoot. Before a note had been played on this tour, they had already lost drummer Chad Smith to his day job touring with the Red Hot Chilli Peppers! Respected studio musician and former John Mellencamp band member Kenny Aronoff took over on sticks, whilst of course the 64 year-old 'Red Rocker' himself Sammy Hagar was on vocals, a certain Joe Satriani was on guitar and Hagar's old mucker from Van Halen, Michael Anthony was on bass - infamous for Lee Roth's leg swinging over his head in the 'Jump' video. They opened with three tracks from their recent second album Chickenfoot III - they decided to skip the second album to avoid the dreaded drop-off experienced by most bands - hence the name. Pretentious moi? The meat in the sandwich was 'Alright Alright' which was er ... alright.
However the Stones flavoured opener 'Lighten Up' and then 'Big Foot' began to uncover Hagar's 'Montrose' roots. We were now cooking with gas and 'Sexy Little Thing', which reached # 4 in the 2009 US Billboard chart, not only had a Satriani riff that Angus & the boys would have been proud of but Hagar's line "Jump On It" took you back to '76 and the Montrose album of the same name (although Hagar had left by then).
'Soap On A Rope' - also off of the 2009 album 'Chickenfoot' - clearly demonstrated Joe's dexterity and up next was er .. 'Up Next' from Chickenfoot III which took things down a notch, followed by 'My Kinda Girl' which again had a Stones touch about it. 'Down The Drain' echoed the influence of the absent Smith - the bass and drum of Anthony and Aronoff making it the classic it is, not forgetting Hagar's 'Daltreyesque' vocals at the end - taking us all back to Sarf East London in '74. 'Three and a Half Letters' from Chickenfoot III leaves you in no doubt that these guys are no one trick ponies. Despite the fact that Montrose's 'Paper Money' lyrics have indeed seen Hagar become a 'wealthy man' his delivery of "I Need A Job" was believable and got the message across. Different and powerful with dare I say Metallica undertones? Nothing wrong with Satriani's closing solo on 'Something Going Wrong' and 'Turning Left' was Chickenfoot's 'Bad Motor Scooter' - the nearest we got to a Montrose cover all night.
'Future in the Past' was the classic finale which included the line "Saving the best for last" - which they certainly did as it evolved into a mystical masterpiece. For their encore we got both their latest single 'Different Devil' and their very first and best selling single from 2009 'Oh Yeah' (great video by the way if have not seen it). Chickenfoot then took a leaf out of Kenny Wayne Shepherd's recent set by covering Hendrix - a faultless 'Foxy Lady'. To be honest - surprise, surprise -the night for me was all about seeing Hagar again for the first time in thirty seven years - and I'm so pleased I did. Not only are the vocals and stage presence still there but he's complemented by a rock band that can kick arse just like Sammy did in the 70's. If we see a better gig in 2012 then it will be awesome. Next stop's Paris, Tilburg and Dusseldorf. Catch them if you can - they might not be back.