Friday, May 15, 2009
The Commodore Ballroom
Vancouver, BC Canada
***Live Review & All Photos by Lord of The Wasteland
“We love the ‘Foot!”
Scrawled across a Canadian flag, that simple message echoed the sentiment of the 900+ in attendance at Chickenfoot’s second-ever live show. This “supergroup,” comprised of vocalist/guitarist Sammy Hagar (ex-Van Halen), guitarist Joe Satriani, bassist Michael Anthony (ex-Van Halen) and drummer Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers), has been bubbling beneath the surface for a little over two years now. First assembled as a friendly jam session, Chickenfoot evolved into a real band as songwriting began to flow and the group clicked. The band chemistry clicked so well, in fact, that Chickenfoot’s self-titled debut is due in stores in mid-June and as a little teaser (and no doubt utilizing a few cleverly selected major markets to work out the kinks), Chickenfoot played the second of six North American dates here in Vancouver before launching into the full-blown publicity blitz that will surely surround the impending summer tour and album release press juggernaut.
Hitting the stage a few minutes early, Chickenfoot’s 90-minute set gathered all 11 tracks from the upcoming CD, as well as a vinyl-only bonus track and a pair of cover songs. Thirty-second snippets of each song have leaked online but this is the first time anyone had heard Chickenfoot music in its entirety and the crowd filling the sold-out club was visibly stoked. The new music runs the gamut from slow, bluesy grooves (“Down The Drain”) to anthemic arena rock (“Oh Yeah”) to funky sing-along choruses (“Turning Left”) to the obligatory ballad (“Learning To Fall”). “My KInda Girl,” written about Sammy Hagar’s wife, “Sexy Little Thing” and “Soap On A Rope” are definite tracks to look out for, as well.
Backed with an impressive light show and an even more impressive sound system, the band certainly surprised many with how enthusiastic they were at this new chapter in their collective career. Hagar, at 61 years of age, still plays the perennial surfer dude role to a tee and his charisma and between song banter describing the evolution and background of each song held everyone’s attention. Michael Anthony, the secret weapon in Van Halen’s vocal arsenal from 1978 through 2005, still maintains the high-pitched harmonies and contributes to a killer rhythm section with Chad Smith. With his baseball cap on backwards, Smith, a wild man whenever he gets near a microphone (and dead ringer for comedian Will Ferrell), is the yin to Joe Satriani’s ultra-reserved yang. The chrome-domed guitarist, adorned in his trademark sunglasses, is the epitome of musical genius, adding virtuosity to the straight-ahead rock and roll of Chickenfoot’s music (Smith described the band at one point by saying they were really “one musician and three idiots”) with jaw-dropping solos on “Turnin’ Left” and a cover of Montrose’s “Bad Motor Scooter.” To close the show, the band launched into a sizzling cover of Deep Purple’s “Highway Star” with Satriani replicating Jon Lord’s mammoth Hammond organ licks through his pedal rig. Despite deafening chants of “Chi-cken-foot!”, the band never returned for a second encore leaving many who hoped for a Van Halen classic disappointed.
I must say I was surprised at how good Chickenfoot’s new music is. They aren’t breaking any new ground here but these guys could easily rest on their laurels and still draw big crowds to every tour stop. Instead, Chickenfoot should be a viable band in 2009 with a solid new record in its pocket thus dispelling the “supergroup” curse that usually plagues these lineups. Velvet Revolver? Shaky future after two records. Audioslave? Buried after three albums. Most others never even made it that far, but if early indications stay on track, Chickenfoot appears to have some—pardon the pun—legs. As Hagar stated, look for he, Anthony, Satriani and Smith to roll through North American cities on a larger scale in late summer-early fall.
Soap On A Rope
Sexy Little Thing
Get It Up
Down The Drain
Bitten By The Wolf
My Kinda Girl
Learning To Fall
Future In The Past
Bad Motor Scooter (Montrose cover)
Highway Star (Deep Purple cover)
***Thanks to Jessica at Live Nation for the press pass.