Sunday, November 20, 2011

Lita Ford - Tailgaters

Lita Ford.  That name is synonymous “Hair Metal” from that classic era buried within the ‘80’s, and I think more importantly she did so much more.  Consider that in a time when the males in the same category were wearing heels, spandex and more makeup than Tammy Faye, Ford was different.  What she did, what she accomplished was phenomenal and still she is “pigeonholed” with bands like “Vixen”, “Femme Fatale” and with the likes of Doro Pesch.  In an era where bands came and went so fast that you would swear they were taken away by UFO's, Ford was different but could she still be that good?

In a year where I have been to concerts in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Chicago and Dubuque, Iowa (that doesn't sound so glamorous now does it), a trip to Bolingbrook, IL doesn't seem to be that bad of a location.  Its interesting the venues I have been a patron at and the trip to a bar called "Tailgaters" really didn't phase me.  As I have said over and over we must support local establishments that bring in music acts, and I think by the turn out I saw Tailgaters, the Bolingbrook area is doing just that.

When she took to the stage on November 18th, 2011 the crowd had already sat through two other acts (I'll write about them later) and honestly the crowd was as excited as any I have seen this year.  Its interesting to see the acts that have taken the long path from the '80's and are still playing because trepidation can creep in and those acts that tour just because they want a paycheck and they really just go through the motions, Ford did not.  Energy is a big thing for me and those bands that really are just going through the motions rarely have any and Lita Ford came out like a cheetah after a lame zebra.

To a fan that is expecting the same performer that we watched 20 years ago can usually expect to hear a strained voice that is beat up from all of the variables that they are exposed to and it can be disheartening.  The first note she dropped was as close to her recorded voice as I have ever heard.  Each note seemed effortless and really felt like she could continue to record for years to come.  It's now time to face the 600 pound gorilla in the room, I know your interest in how "great" her voice was and I am firmly aware of what you really want to know about Ford so here goes...  Her body...

Of work is amazing but the support she receives from her band is just as amazing (you assumed I was talking about her physical body didn't you, ya perv).  Ford's real skill is in how well she plays guitar, she makes it look effortless as well as like she is having fun while doing it.  It just reenforces the fact of the matter that Ford isn't just in it for a paycheck and that her desire to provide her fans the best possible experience.  As if further explanation of her loyalty to her fan base is the fact that she has filled her band with excellent musicians.  Each member of the band has their own dynamic and despite the individuality of each performer works so well within the band as a whole. 

Metal music always seems to have a set game plan when it comes to personnel.  There is always a lead guitar, bass (metal wouldn't be the same without either) and drums but all too often many metal denizens forget about keyboards.  While it seems that most of those metal bands don't utilize keyboards but I can assure you that is far from the case.  Bands like Bon Jovi (I know, I know they're not metal), Ozzy Osbourne (think Mr. Crowley) and Motley Crue have used keyboards to some extent and add Lita Ford to that list.

With Michael T. Ross taking that keyboard baton (baton?), Lita Ford has what I would consider an excellent band mate despite his statement that he doesn't know the beginning of Mr. Crowley (see I told ya) and made up for it through his role.  I think keyboards are thought of as background to many songs but throughout the entire show, Ross made his presence known and really added his two cents to the performance. 

A common site at any show are roadies milling about the stage as they prepare for the act to take the stage.  Not only do the roadies setup the equipment they also do sound checks (and whatever else they do) so when I noticed a rather interesting looking individual appear on stage I assumed it was a roadie.  Why wouldn't I?  Sure he looked like C.C. Deville, sure he was working around the drums and sure he did the sound check so it was a no-brained to assume he was one of the roadies.  I was sorrowfully mistaken when the lights dimmed and that "roadie" took a seat at the drums and began to play them.

Dennis Zimmerman appears to be your standard run-of-the-mill drummer (or at least what I think a metal drummer should be like) but he was much more than that.  He was fun to watch, he was skilled, he did drumstick tricks (until he dropped one) but he was just freaking good.

When PJ Farley took the stage and began to play the bass it became painfully obvious that he was just freaking great.  When I talked about Lita Ford's presence of looking like she was having fun the same thing was true of Farley.  He was engaging, very skilled, and he exuded this sense of just having fun while on stage.  Music needs more people like Farely, it really does.

There is always this preconceived notion that guitar players are the primadonnas of the music world.  Certainly there are examples of such behavior with guitar players but as Gary Hoey took the stage that obviously wasn't the case.  Its fun to watch people that skilled perform, and watching Hoey play really was fun.  Just like everyone else from the band, Hoey seemed like it was fun and not just a job.

As anyone that grew up watching TV in the '80's (or Friday Night Videos for that matter) can attest Lita Ford made her presence known.  Despite her great looks, Lita Ford showed another side of metal that other bands (male and female) couldn't, she showed talent and staying power.  Starting with The Runaways to a successful solo career and collaboration with Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead, Ozzy and Nikki Sixx Lita Ford proved that metal wasn't just a "mans game".  Lita Ford exemplifies what every aspiring musician should try to be, a true professional and a true master of the craft.

Lita Ford impressed me with her show at Tailgaters in Bolingbrook, IL.  She showed what talent can do for you if you are willing to bust your arse and really love what you do.  Lita Ford exemplifies what we should demand of any of our musical heroes and I hope that I can find ever more bands with the drive and the passion she has.

1 comment:

  1. Nice Job! My wife and I just saw and meet Lita and her band in Illiopolis, Illinois last night... Great Show!