Live At The Whisky!
The Whisky A Go Go, Hollywood, California
Review by James West, The-Rocker.com
Photos by Danette West, TheRockerChic.com
It may have taken nearly 45 years, but seeing Angel live for the first time was well worth the wait! From the moment my awesome Rocker Chic wife Danette surprised me with tickets to see one of the favorite bands from my youth I have been in an “Angelic Euphoria” in anticipation of the concert at the legendary Whisky A Go Go in Hollywood!
Danette knew from the stories I’ve written on The-Rocker.com about how special Angel has meant to me my whole life, and she even custom made our own Angel T-Shirts for the event. Thanks again to my beautiful and talented wife for helping make my Rock dreams come true!
OPENING ACTS FOR ANGEL
Traffic into LA on a Friday evening is always a paint in the ass, and this Friday was no exception. The opening act on the night’s bill, Witch, must have cast a spell over our travel plans as we ended up missing their whole performance!
But we did get to enjoy some other great bands leading up to Angel’s performance. “Shock Frenzy” showcased some great guitar fretwork and is a band to be on the lookout for. It’s just too bad there were only about 20 people on hand, including us, to witness their set.
Prima Donna Rising
“Prima Donna Rising” was an interesting group. The Rocker Chic commented that singer Kimble Ouerbacker III looks and sounds like a cross between Alice Cooper and David Coverdale! Kimble told a nice story about being the truck driver for Angel back in the 70’s until he drove the truck off the road one night! The band played well, especially guitarist Steve Sunnarborg, but they went about 30 minutes over their allotted time which put the whole evening’s agenda back as well, with Angel taking the stage 30 minutes later than scheduled.
I was more impressed by “Stonebreed” and especially lead singer Carlos Cruz. The band offered up some great songs and riffs, and Carlos had the best voice of the night next to that of Frank DiMino’s!
I kept waiting for the Angel merchandise booth to open upstairs at The Whisky in hopes of getting my hands on the new Angel CD “Risen” released that day. Unfortunately, when the booth opened the band didn’t bring any “Risen” CD’s with them, but I did score a couple of great vintage photos signed by Punky and Frank. Also, after the killer Angel performance, The Rocker Chic scored the coveted "Set List" from the evening's performance. They will all look awesome in my Rock Room!
“Angeles” took the stage next and I was blown away by the guitar pyrotechnics of “Demon” Dale Lytle! He sounded like a cross between Uli Jon Roth and Eddie Van Halen and was fun to watch. The band was having a blast, especially singer Gwendolyn Casella. Get Your Horns Up!!!
The Hard Way
The Rocker Chic and I saw “The Hard Way” when they opened for Dokken a few months ago at The Whisky, and we were excited to see them again open for “Angel”. Up until “The Hard Way” the amps and monitors were tolerable for the fans like us in front of the stage, but someone flipped the “+10” switch, and I actually had to put earplugs in my ears for the first time in 30+ years to keep them from bleeding! LOL
I still enjoyed their set, but I could barely understand singer Eric Jeffrey’s vocals during the performance. Another highlight of this band was watching “Captain Kirk” drummer Jonas Streffer’s animated killer drumming, plus The Rocker Chic made a comment that guitarist John Huldt should’ve taken his shirt off while playing. Not sure if it would’ve helped him play any better as he did a great job, but The Hard Way dancers seemed to dance really great with what little they had on! Ha!
Watching the stage hands get the stage ready for Angel seemed very surreal. Was that actually Frank’s microphone stand being brought out to center stage? Was that actually Punky’s guitar being tuned? Oh My God- This shit’s about to get real up in here!
And then, like from the heavens, Frank and Punky and the rest of the band descended down upon The Whisky stairs and took to the stage with Punky standing right in front of me within arms- reach! On Earth As It Is In Heaven, this Sinful - White Hot - Helluva Band called ANGEL launched into a relentless set of fiery favorites for all to behold and witness!
All I can say is God bless Danny Farrow for his efforts in launching the wings of Angel back into flight a few years ago, as this reincarnation of mostly 60- year olds didn’t miss a beat the whole night! Their 18-song set delivered all my favorites like Mirrors, Can You Feel It, Bad Time, Cast The First Stone, Don’t Leave Me Lonely, and other Angel Classics performed with passion and precision. The band was tight and sounded like they had been touring for years. You can tell they are not taking this second-coming for granted and are making the most of the opportunity to RISE again.
I was literally on cloud nine being right in front of one of my all-time guitar heroes Punky Meadows! His riffs and solos literally ripped my face off that night. I couldn’t help being mesmerized by his Fender tone and attack the whole set. From the Angel albums I always felt his sound was muted a little by having to share equally with Greg Guffria’s keyboards in the mix, but in this live setting he was free to cut loose and burn! It was one of the best live guitar performances I have ever witnessed.
I was a little concerned at how well Frank DiMino would sound in a live setting after all these years. As with many of my other favorite bands of the 70s some vocalists have definitely had their day in front of the microphone, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well Frank sounded in a live setting! He sung in a lower register, but it only helped the songs in my opinion. He knew his limits, but he could still hit some really high notes with ease when he went for them. But what impressed me most about Frank was his personality and positive energy he transferred to The Whisky crowd. He was genuinely excited and humbled by this opportunity for him to shine once again, and that enthusiasm and excitement helped take the bands performance to another level. I also liked his road stories behind some of Angel’s greatest songs.
Danny Farrow was awesome on rhythm guitars, and bassist Steve Ojane locked in those killer Angel grooves with drummer Billy Orrico for the whole set. Charlie Calv had big keyboards to fill, but he did an outstanding job of delivering Guffria’s chords but with his own personality throw in, especially during “The Fortune”.
The Rocker Chic and I were snappy- happy all night long with our cameras, but fighting that horrible stage lighting at The Whisky wreaked havoc on the quality of our photos. We are both firm believers in not using flash during a performance, but out of worry of not having acceptable images, I snuck a few flashes in just for reassurance. I apologize to Angel for this!
The bright side of having strange lighting is that you can sometimes get some unexpected cool-ass shots like the one The Rocker Chic got with Punky and the “Angel Wings” effect from the motion blur! We like the fact that the photos you see on The-Rocker.com give you more of a fan’s eye view of the actual mood lighting and effects that you actually witness instead of the generic “flash-perfect” poses you don’t actually see from the crowd.
Hopefully the new Angel album “Risen” has the fire and intensity that we had the honor of witnessing Friday night at The Whisky in Hollywood. I’m still proud to wear my Angel Wings of Honor for a band that should have been greater than Kiss back in the day. Maybe “The Fortune” of this great rock band will finally reach the heavens for everyone to witness once in their lifetimes as I was fortunate to have witnessed Friday night.