One time Ozzy guitarist Jake E. Lee has broken his silence after over two decades. He and his partners in crime vocalist Darren Smith, bassist Greg Chaisson and drummer Jonas Fairley, better known as The Red Dragon Cartel have been out on the road for over a year now in support of their stunning eponymous debut album. Playing a mixture of Ozzy and Badlands classics alongside the new material, the tour recently made an out of this world second stop in Pittsburgh. It was the second to the last show of a very long touring cycle.
Opening duties were handled by local Pittsburgh bands Homicide Black and Silk9, with the exception of the Ethan Brosh Band. Both local bands did a fantastic job, but the real surprise was the Ethan Brosh Band. Those not yet familiar with Brosh were in for a real treat as his performance was one of the best of the evening outside of the masterful display put on by guitar God Jake E. Lee of course- a man who’s signature style of ferocious picking and heavy bluesy riffing has been often imitated, but never duplicated and still remains intact after all these years.
Silk9 got things going with a rousing set of strong originals like “Doesn’t Seem Right,” “Embrace” and “Tears” intermixed with covers of Papa Roach’s “Lifeline” and Skillet’s “Monster.” They had a nice turnout and were well received by the crowd. Their set closed with lead singer Jamie Rohr telling the crowd, “You guys kicked ass and it’s not even eight o’clock yet.” The night was off to a good start.
Homicide Black also did Pittsburgh proud and made a ton of noise for just a trio, with their unique Sabbath meets Slayer with a heavy side order of blues blend of old school classic rock. They too chose to mix powerhouse originals like “Well of Souls,” “Sinner or Saint” and “Church On the Hill” with a medley of Black Sabbath’s “Fairies Wear Boots” and “Heaven & Hell” and a cover of W.A.S.P.’s “Love Machine” and lead singer/guitarist Sean Nestor had a phenomenal voice with a very impressive upper register.
The Ethan Brosh Band took things in a completely different direction with a mind bending set of instrumental hard rock in the vein of Joe Satriani or Eric Johnson. Brosh has worked with legends like Malmsteen, Schenker and Lynch and, in due time will be held in the same high regard.
Brosh and second guitarist Nate Motalvo, who is an extremely impressive player in his own right, kept the mood light between songs, joking that the lack of vocals left more time for more solos.
One of the highlights of the set was Brosh’s moody, bluesy, Whitesnake-inspired guitar solo that took place down in the audience. Speaking of Whitesnake, they did a cover of “Is This Love” which drummer Dan Whitelock sang. The last song in their set was an exercise in prowess and technical dexterity that ventured into Dragonforce territory and beyond.
Now fans were ready for Red Dragon Cartel and they wasted no time, hitting them hard right out of the gate with the Ozzy classic “The Ultimate Sin.” The band was in top form and looked and sounded amazing, but all eyes were firmly fixed on the larger than life living legend.
New tracks like “Wasted,” “War Machine” and “Feeder” got the same enthusiastic reaction as Badlands and Ozzy standards like “Healer,” “High Wire,” “In A Dream,” “Now You See Me (Now You Don’t)” and “Bark At The Moon,” which were much heavier than their studio counterparts.
Jake’s abilities grow with age, just like a fine wine and he still shreds like a motherfucker, striking all the familiar poses when he took center stage for the often-extended solos and jam sessions, which were some of the true highlights of the show.
Smith was really tapping into his upper register and was quite comical and charming, keeping the momentum and mood going when Jake’s amp blew out. He even dedicated “Rumblin’ Train” to the late great Ray Gillan, prompting the evening’s one and only crowd surfer.
Closer “Bark At The Moon” brought the house down and, at its epic conclusion Smith said that “Like a great orgasm, all things must come to an end” and as the house lights came up, Jake did not exit to the side or rear of the stage, but off the front and out into the crowd to spend time with his adoring fans, so as to give them each a night they would never forget.
-photos and review by Eric Hunker
pre-tour interview: Ethan Brosh interview with Reggie Edwards
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