8/15/15: Cathouse Live, Irvine Meadows Amphitheater, Irvine, CA
MAIN STAGE REVIEW
The Cathouse Live was the brainchild of Riki Rachtman (MTV’S Headbanger’s Ball) who wanted to bring the debauchery of the Sunset Strip to the masses.
Call it what you want; a Celebration of Sleaze, A Day of Debauchery or as Riki himself said, “The Woodstock of Glam Metal”…whatever it was…it was one hell of a good time.
There were a couple of themes running through the day’s events… The first was that this was probably one of the greatest collections of 80’s glam rock/metal acts to gather on one (two!) stages in recent times. Let’s put it this way, If Sirius XM’s “Hair Nation” threw up, this concert would be the result.
The other theme…The STIFLING…FUCKING…HEAT!
With temperatures hovering around the 100° mark, the crowd was notably lethargic, seeking out any ounce of shade they could fit their frames into. Especially early on, you could tell that if people weren’t interested in a certain band, they would take themselves out to the food/merchandise area to seek shelter under the trees. At one point during the show I had to move to the other side of the venue so the burn on my face would at least be somewhat even.
Basically, in a genre that is noted for wearing black clothing, this was NOT a day to be wearing black clothing.
Because of the number of bands (15 on the main stage not including the All-Star Jam), as soon as one bands set was finished, a revolving stage would whisk them off one side, while bringing the next band to the front, which meant the music flowed constantly all day.
The sets were short and to the point…there was no time for fillers and the crowd was blessed with a day of Greatest Hits.
Winners of the Cathouse Live Battle of the Bands, Swamphammer, kicked off the day’s festivities with their southern rock sound. And following them all day was a crescendo of cool starting with the Bulletboys who didn’t let the early, sparse crowd or the heat affect them at all. And the train kept a rollin’…Trixter, Black n Blue, Autograph, Junkyard (the band Riki said he was most looking forward to seeing), Saigon Kick, these bands all delivered great crowd pleasing sets, and had their fans singing every word to every song.
Next up were LA Guns. Formed in the same year as the birth of the Cathouse (1986), you could sense the energy of the crowd coming to life. The sides of the stage began to fill with other band members to witness the Hollywood Vampires take command of the Irvine Crowd.
The next band up was named in 2010 by the Houston Press “One of the Greatest Metal Bands in Texas Music History”, and Dangerous Toys did everything in their power to prove it. It’s not often that the ‘Toys are seen in these parts, but by the crowd response they wouldn’t be opposed to a more regular engagement.
As 6:30pm approached, the sun began to sink behind the Irvine Meadows Hill which brought the welcome embrace of shade. It also signaled the arrival of Faster Pussycat! Taime Downe (who co-founded the Cathouse with Riki), came out with an umbrella and an attitude, and the crowd LOVED it! Kicking off with, of course, “Cathouse”, the sides of the stage were adorned with 2 burlesque dancers, bringing that sweaty sunset vibe to the amphitheater.
Faster Pussycat have had their share of line-up issues, but there was nothing but love this night as former guitarist Greg Steele joined the band on “House of Pain”. Not finished there, Taime asked the crowd to welcome another two former members, guitarist, Brent Muscat and bassist, Eric Stacy.
A RATT-less Stephen Pearcy kept the crowd on its feet by playing a RATT filled set.
And if for any reason at this point that you didn’t feel like you were kicking it at the Cathouse just yet, the sight of Ron Jeremy hanging out in the wings during Pearcy’s set may have helped.
Dokken were up next and the start of their set was marked by an aggravated Don berating one of the sound techs at the side of the stage. The band sounded great, although very noticeable, Don and those trademark high notes don’t seem to see eye to eye anymore. Regardless, the crowd ate up every song and sang their hearts out.
Next up was a screaming ball of metal as Sebastian Bach hit the stage like a sledgehammer. Whipping his mic around like a helicopter blade, Sebastian ripped right into “Slave to the Grind” and spent the next 40 minutes kicking everyone’s ass. Except for “American Metalhead”, it was all Skid Row songs tonight. Bas referenced a recent “Blabbermouth” article that stated he hated seeing cellphones at concerts and in a way only Sebastian can, told everyone to light them up for “I Remember You”.
Before the band kicked into “18 and Life”, Sebastian brought out a reluctant Riki Rachtman to be serenaded to the opening lines. Riki didn’t stay long.
Tom Kiefer came out with his solo band and sounded great as he rocked out to a Cinderella-heavy set list that included all their greatest hits. He threw in a couple of his solo songs, “It’s Not Enough” and “Solid Ground” as well as a crowd sing-a-long to The Beatles, “With a Little Help From My Friends”.
Extreme, the only East Coast based band of the day, closed the main show with a great set that borrowed heavily from their now 25 year old, “Pornograffitti” album. The band still sound amazing and you’d be hard pressed to find any rock acts that deliver the incredible harmonies that Extreme still do. Gary Cherone and Nuno Bettencourt graciously let the crowd handle a lot of the vocal duties on their hit, “More Than Words” and had everyone singing along with their last song, “Hole Hearted”.
After a quick burst of Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, Extreme exited and the stage turned for the last time of the evening to bring Gilby Clarke’s All-Star Jam.
Riki Rachtman rode to the side of the stage on a motorcycle and thanked the crowd for their support and asked them if this was something he should do again. The response was a resounding YES. He then encouraged the crowd to all come down to the front of the amphitheater. As the security guards sphincter’s tightened up at the prospect, the amazingly well-behaved crowd filled in all the gaps in the orchestra and Loge sections, creating a more intimate moment. Almost Cathouse-like you could say…
Gilby brought out some special guests that included Evan Seinfeld (Biohazard), Chip Z’Nuff (Enuff Z’Nuff), Michael Starr (Steel Panther), Brent Fitz (Slash) and very special guest, Ace Frehley (KISS). These artists were joined by some of the days returning acts, including Sebastian Bach, Phil Lewis, Brent Muscat, Taime Downe, Nuno Bettencourt and others. They jammed on several songs including David Bowie’s “The Jean Genie”, KISS’ “Shock Me” & “Deuce”, Guns n Roses’, “Mr Brownstone”, and a Riki Rachtman led version of Iggy Pop’s “Search & Destroy”.
At the end of the show, Riki didn’t want to take credit for putting this gig together. He thanked the fans for allowing him the opportunity to bring the Cathouse back to California. Whether it was for this one day, or possibly another day down the road is still to be seen. If the response of the Cathouse Live crowd is anything to go by…we’ll all be waiting if and when it happens.
Twitter: @ Simi Will
HERE’S ANOTHER REVIEW TO CHECK OUT FROM CATHOUSE LIVE FROM SOMEONE THAT EXPERIENCED THE CATHOUSE IN THE 80s (via ROCKSANDY.COM):