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Brixton O2 Academy, 14 January 2012
in rock have a mixed pedigree, frequently amounting to less than the sum
of their parts, or leaving fans of the members' previous bands feeling
disappointed. However, along with Black Country Communion, Chickenfoot
promise to give them a good name, and have also proved their longevity.
2009's debut and a memorable show at Shepherds Bush Empire was followed
last year by a follow-up in the cheekily entitled Chickenfoot 3 and on
this, one of two UK dates, the Brixton Academy was packed to the gills.
was warmed up very nicely by Red White and Blues, who are putting
in substantial roadwork supporting the likes of the Quireboys and
reunion came to an end, guitarist Myke Gray has renewed acquaintance
with former Jagged Edge bandmate Matti Alfonzetti, who as well as
supplying bass has the classic, deep bluesy voice of a prime time
of the four piece band, with Myke sharing guitar duties with the curly
haired Adam Wardle, was initially lessened as they played in near
darkness and openers 'Shame Shame' and 'Set My Sights on You' were
spoiled by a muddy mix, but 'Rescue Me' and in particular 'Counts for
Nothing' impressed with a slow burning bluesy feel, reminding me of the
Union and Aphrodisiac-era FM.
more straightforward with a rhythmic groove powered by Daren Lamerton's
drums while their eponymous track had lashings of dirty rock n roll
slide guitar in the mould of George Thorogood or the Georgia Satellites.
time was against them, they still slipped in the good time AC/DC
influenced riffage of 'Stand up for Rock n Roll'. They unashamedly tread
no new ground, but on the evidence of this live act Red White and Blues
will make many new friends in classic rock circles.
simple stage set and their large webbed foot logo behind, Chickenfoot
let the music do the talking, and hit the ground running opening with a
trio of the more straightforward hard rockers from Chickenfoot 3 in
'Lighten Up', 'All Right All Right' and 'Big Foot', which got the best
reaction yet, and 'Sexy Little Thing' from the debut with a great
who this year reaches pensionable age, is somehow unchanged over the
years, full of energy and still with a strong voice - proof that his
patented Cabo Wabo must have anti-ageing properties.
But 'Soap on
a Rope' was in a slightly different mould- less of a song, more a
structure against which the band members could show off their prowess as
the three almost competed to outdo each other with their virtuosity,
while at the same time keeping things tight and purposeful.
Satriani's technical virtuosity on guitar is unparalleled - even if he
and Kenny with their shaven heads and wraparound shades gave them the
air of the martians in the old Cadburys Smash adverts!
On this tour
Chad Smith had to duck out because of Red Hot Chilli Peppers commitments
but noted session drummer Kenny Aronoff, his bony hyperactive arms
beating the hell out of his kit, was a worthy stand in even if he lacked
Anthony's bass - not to mention his vocal support for Sammy - forms a
comparatively large part of the Chickenfoot sound compared to other
bands, while Joe Satriani's technical virtuosity on guitar is
unparalleled - even if he and Kenny with their shaven heads and
wraparound shades gave them the air of the martians in the old Cadburys
Kinda Girl' had a very Van Halen vibe to it, other songs like 'Up Next',
'Turning Left' and 'Down the Drain' give the band the opportunity to
jam, but what was most impressive was that their instrumental talent was
never allowed to descend into self-indulgence and indeed solo slots were
'Three and a
Half Letters' was without doubt the heaviest song of the night - though
as Sammy Hagar read out, as on record, letters from despairing job
seekers in the USA, I am not sure then turning one into a paper dart and
throwing into the crowd struck quite the right tone!
was the bluesy 'Something's Going On', with some great work from Joe on
his 12 string. It says much for his talent that Sammy, no mean guitar
player himself, largely sticks to singing but when he strapped on his
guitar halfway through set closer 'Future in the Past', to my more
traditional ears he peeled off my favourite solo of the night.
encores, Sammy expressed his gratitude for the crowd's response, saying
how much it meant as they had formed the band to play what they wanted
to with no thought for commerciality.
It was then
somewhat ironic that the first encore, 'Different Devil', is a melodic,
hook filled number not too dissimilar to that which brought him 1980's
hits both solo and with Van Halen. 'Oh Yeah' from the debut finally got
an appreciative, but somewhat reserved crowd, singing and punching the
air and featured a longer solo from Joe before segueing into a cover of
'Foxy Lady' which they did full justice to.
not to be cheerful? Well, I thought the sense of surprise and fun that
had marked their Shepherds Bush gig in 2009 was not there to the same
extent, and of course I would have loved to see them play old Van Halen,
Hagar or even Montrose numbers that I and many of those present have
lived with for so many years.
But that is
to miss the point. Rather than fall back on past glories, these seasoned
musicians are giving us a new classic rock band for us to develop a love
and appreciation of. And they do so as a team, when it would be easier
to descent into self indulgence. Truly on this evidence, Chickenfoot are
‘finger lickin good'.
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