Flashback 2015: The Devon Allman Band Rips Up Coach House


DEVON ALLMAN BAND played The Coach House Sep. 9

With all live concerts on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we decided to re-run this Devon Allman concert review from 2015:

There was a moment on Wednesday night at The Coach House, when bluesman Devon Allman (yes, of those Allmans) left the stage, wandered through the crowd, ordered a drink, came back on stage, took a swig, launched into a towering solo. The crowd may have come out of curiosity, wanting to see if Gregg Allman’s son has any chops, or because they were fans of his dad’s old band, but in that moment, it was clear the people in the crowd were going to leave as fans of Devon Allman.

Allman took to the stage all in black, and used the same guitar the entire show. His band also has an understated presence. They’re unassuming looking guys, but boy do they know how to play. Students and purveyors of the blues, they ripped the lid off of one song after the next, ranging from Allman’s days in Honeytribe and Royal Southern Brotherhood, to his solo albums and covers.

The opener, “Half the Truth” off of Allman’s latest album, Ragged and Dirty, set the tone for the night. A real southern foot-stomper with a menacing guitar riff, it got the crowd’s attention. It wasn’t until the fourth song, an instrumental jam that Devon really began to show his stuff. He put on a clinic, making the guitar shudder and cry. He brought it down to a whisper, then rammed it back up again, looking out at the audience as if to say, “What about this?” The kid came to play.

Showing respect for blues hero Eric Clapton, the band played an impressive cover of “Forever Man,” and even payed tribute to Allman’s heritage with wonderful covers of “Melissa,” and “One Way Out,” a blues standard made famous by the Allman Brothers Band in the 70’s. Interestingly, it was the band’s cover of Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry” that was the real showstopper. The iconic song had everyone swaying, and the band played it with just as much soul as the original. Bobby Schneck Jr., the band’s other guitar player played one of those solos that could make you cry, then Allman brought it home with a solo that went so quiet, he had the crowd hanging on every twitch of this finger.

The band played until midnight, taking a short break which thinned out the crowd to nearly half, making the small setting even more intimate, and appropriately bluesy. The band closed with “Midnight Lake Michigan,” a “spooky blues” instrumental track that Allman introduced by addressing the crowd, saying, “Thank you for supporting real music, made by real people, not drum machines and robots.” The crowd hooted in approval, as Allman made his way through the crowd mid-song, shaking hands and playing another transcendent solo. If you want to see a great guitar player, go see Devon Allman.

Five Finger Death Punch, Five Point Amphitheatre

Five Finger Death Punch, Five Point Amphitheatre 8-24-22; photo Reuben Martinez

Five Finger Death Punch, Five Point Amphitheatre 8-24-22; photo Reuben Martinez

Another hot, end of summer concert winding down through SoCal on August 24th at Five Point Amphitheatre in Irvine, brought a stacked musical lineup. Five Finger Death Punch on tour promoting their new album “Afterlife” released on August 19th, also had Bringing Fire from the Gods, The Hu, and heavy metal giants Megadeth onboard to kick off their tour.

Five Finger Death Punch, Five Point Amphitheatre 8-24-22; photo Reuben Martinez

Five Finger Death Punch, Five Point Amphitheatre 8-24-22; photo Reuben Martinez

From “The Way Of The Fist” released in 2007, “Afterlife” is number eleven for the band who are pushing the album while simultaneously taking to social media to thank the fans for making it number one on the Billboard charts.

Megadeth are also celebrating their new album “The Sick, The Dying, and The Dead” out September 2nd.

Five Finger Death Punch, Five Point Amphitheatre 8-24-22; photo Reuben Martinez

Five Finger Death Punch, Five Point Amphitheatre 8-24-22; photo Reuben Martinez

The set opened with “Inside Out” from the 2020 album, “F8”, the last album with lead guitarist, Jason Hook. They played through most of the hits, covering all the albums in their 15+ years. At one point singer Ivan Moody shared a special occasion, by bringing out his 10-year-old daughter Nova so the crowd could sing Happy Birthday to her. Then a heartfelt moment followed when a teary-eyed Nova took the microphone to tell the crowd how her dad brings joy to everyone’s lives.

Five Finger Death Punch, Five Point Amphitheatre 8-24-22; photo Reuben Martinez

Five Finger Death Punch, Five Point Amphitheatre 8-24-22; photo Reuben Martinez

This tour goes all through the summer to mid-October with these Metal greats before starting the second leg of their tour on November 9th, this time co-headlining with Country star Brantley Gilbert which through the Holidays.

Even with a couple of member changes since I saw them last, they still continue to have the “Five Finger” sound.

Setlist for Irvine
Inside Out
Wash It All Away
Welcome To The Circus
Jekyll and Hyde
Sham Pain
Bad Company
Lift Me Up
Hard to See
The Agony of Regret
Far From Home/Gone Away/ A Little Bit Off
Wrong Side Of heaven
Burn MF
Got Your Six
Under and Over It
The Bleeding

GHOST, Pechanga Arena

Ghost - Pechanga Arena August 26, 2022; photo Reuben Martinez

Ghost – Pechanga Arena August 26, 2022; photo Reuben Martinez

“Impera”, the latest release from Ghost, out last March, played here in Southern California with Volbeat the week before the release. Now they’re hitting the United States and kicking off the “Imperatour” at San Diego’s Pechanga Arena, August 26, 2022.

Also on the bill are Spiritbox from Canada, making a lot of buzz on radio and Sirius Radio Octane since 2021 with their debut album “Eternal Blue”. As well as Mastodon, greats that have been around for 20 plus years, promoting their album, “Hushed and Grim” released last October. Great sounding bands to have on the lineup.

Ghost - Pechanga Arena August 26, 2022; photo Reuben Martinez

Ghost – Pechanga Arena August 26, 2022; photo Reuben Martinez

As I approached the venue there were lines of people waiting to get in and you could see the influence Ghost has on their fans. Some dressed as Ghosts’ singer Papa Emeritus himself and some women dressed as nuns. I’ve known about Ghost for over 10 years and the popularity of their shows have grown from small venues to huge areas such as Pechanga Arena. I still remember seeing Ghost for the first time at Coachella in 2013 in the blistering heat and I think there were a handful of people that knew their music.

Now Ghost is playing a full venue, with 5 full albums under their belt, a full stage production, and a band who cover their faces with masks called, The Nameless Ghouls. A castle like stage with a stained-glass backdrop set the scene for another epic show. Opening with tracks from the new album beginning with “Imperium / Kaisarion”, they later debuted, “Watcher in the Sky” also off the latest album. Ghost never disappoints in the realm of entertainment, which included a couple of wardrobe changes and even an appearance of Papa Nihil (high ranked character) playing saxophone on “Miasma”.

Other songs that highlighted the evening were “Mary on a Cross” and “Mummy Dust” where it rained gold confetti during the finale.
Ghost is only playing 20 dates on this leg of the Imperatour. Look for dates. If they aren’t coming to your area. I’m sure they will soon.

Set list Pechanga Arena
Imperium Intro / Kaisarion
Devil Church
Hunters Moon
Call Me Little Sunshine
Con Clavi, Con Dio
Prime Mover
Watcher in the Sky (live debut)
Year Zero
He Is
Mary on A Cross
Mummy Dust
Dance Macabre
Square Hammer

Royal Blood Reign Supreme In Santa Ana (Flashback: 2015)


REVIEW: Royal Blood at The Observatory photo: James Christopher

Flashback 2015: Royal Blood Concert Review

While playing to a sold-out crowd at the Observatory on Thursday, Mike Kerr of Brighton hard rock duo Royal Blood urged the crowd to be fully present. “We’re gonna play another song, but I only want to play it for people that don’t have a fucking phone in the air,” he said before launching into the monstrous “Loose Change,” off of their self-titled debut. This desire to take in the moment makes sense for Royal Blood, who have experienced a breakneck rise to fame. They released their first demos a mere two years ago, and have been riding a wave of buzz generated by high-profile fans like Arctic Monkeys, Foo Fighters, and hard-rock godfather Jimmy Page, ever since.

Playing one badass, heavy-hitter after another, like the swaggering “Better Strangers,” and the slinky “You Can Be So Cruel,” one finds it hard to believe that the colossal sound coming from the stage is made by just two people. Kerr, who handles vocals and bass guitar, strutted around the stage like an old pro, filling, then annihilating, any hole left by the lack of a lead guitar player. Drummer Ben Thatcher rounds out the sound with mammoth fills and hip-hop-influenced rhythms on a drum set that he doesn’t just play, but hurls himself at.

The chugging riffs on “Little Monster” and “Come On Over” are rooted in hard rock and even metal, but Kerr’s bass work balanced the heaviness with plenty of melody, while his slick vocals, alternating between hypnotic and drop-dead sexy, give the songs a moody slink. The swaggering “Figure It Out,” slide-bass inflected “One Trick Pony,” and the brash “Blood Hands,” were high points of an altogether phenomenal set, with Kerr joining Thatcher up on the drum riser for a jam-out, so in-sync that they seemed to be thinking with one brain.

The tinnitus-inducing “Out Of The Black” closed the show, pushing an already electrified crowd into near hysteria. With a series of false endings that included Thatcher crowd-surfing, a hair-raising rendition of Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man”, and Thatcher ultimately kicking over his chair and savagely finishing the song while standing up, it was a fittingly epic conclusion for such a knockout show.

With a lot of buzz-bands, the hype can overshadow the actual talent of the group. This is definitely not the case with Kerr and Thatcher. Royal Blood is good, and they know it. With just two instruments, they create enough power to fill an arena, and if this show is any indication, they’ll probably be filling them very soon.

The show was opened by WAKRAT and Bass Drum Of Death.

Shinedown Valley Center, Harrah’s Casino

Shinedown - Harrah’s Casino Jan 29, 2022; photo Reuben Martinez

SHINEDOWN- Harrah’s Casino Jan 29, 2022; photo Reuben Martinez

Shinedown, fresh into touring again after everything shut down, started their new tour on the west coast, stopping January 29 at Harrah’s Valley Center in San Diego County and they didn’t miss a beat!

Shinedown is back and ready to promote the upcoming album Planet Zero coming out in April. This will be their 8th album over their 20 year career. The band says, “it’s a reflection of humanity especially during this crazy period in this world.” Full of energy, this band never slowed down during the time off, also putting out a movie, “Attention Attention” in 2021. And now they’re back on the road!

Shinedown - Harrah’s Casino Jan 29, 2022; photo Reuben Martinez

Shinedown – Harrah’s Casino Jan 29, 2022; photo Reuben Martinez

Bringing with them on tour and opening was newcomer Ayron Jones from Seattle, Washington. He’s getting a lot of buzz and airplay on Octane on Sirius XM. I’ve been listening to him and it was great to hear his hard rock meets Stevie Ray Vaughan sound live on stage. Ayron Jones brought fantastic energy and a great backing band behind him in support of his debut Child Of The State. Every song rocked with blues and soul.

Shinedown - Harrah’s Casino Jan 29, 2022; photo Reuben Martinez

Shinedown – Harrah’s Casino Jan 29, 2022; photo Reuben Martinez

Shinedown is one of my favorite bands to see live. I caught the 3rd night of the tour which kicked off with “Cut the Cord” and it started the night off with a bang. They also played fan favorites such as “45,” “Devil,” “Second Chance,” and the cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” – a staple in their set list. This full arena undeniably felt the music.

The group just finished a short leg of the tour but will continue back on the road in April to play summer festivals before going overseas in June. I know how this band loves to tour and I’m looking forward to their return to SoCal to support Planet Zero.

In the meantime, check out the new single of the same name “Planet Zero”.
Listen: https://shinedown.lnk.to/PlanetZeroSingle

Set list for Shinedown 1/29/2022

Cut the Cord
Fly From The Inside
State Of My Head
If you Only Knew
Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom Lay Boom)
Planet Zero
I’ll Follow You
How Did You Love
Get Up
Second Chance
Simple Man
Sound of Madness

REMEMBERED: Starry Nites Music And Arts Festival: DAY ONE (2017)

Starry Nites Music And Arts Festival

Starry Nites Music And Arts Festival; photo Joey Pedroza

Remember going to outdoor festivals, perhaps camping overnight, discovering the magic of music outdoors surrounded by nature? This review of Starry Nites Music and Arts Festival took place over a weekend in 2017.

Tucked away in the mountains of Santa Barbara, far from the hum of a freeway or a room made of drywall, the Starry Nites Music And Arts Festival sought to remove us from the toil and tussle of city life, and free us from the endless barrage of responsibilities and thoughts and stress that seem inescapably bound to leading a “normal” lifestyle. Out here, in the unity and peace of nature, all you had to worry about was breathing, and the band schedule. For all intents and purposes, the festival took place in its own plane of existence, a sort of Eden for music. And so it seems only fitting then that the music was just as transportive, featuring a lineup of artists who seemed hand chosen for mental escapism.


DOWN DIRTY SHAKE at Starry Nites Festival; photo Joey Pedroza

The first of these bands that I made it in time to see was DOWN DIRTY SHAKE, a psychedelic soul-rock jam band from San Francisco. Staying true to these genre descriptors, their performance was a feast for the mind. With two drummers, maracas, tambourines, and an extremely involved bassist, the enveloping pulse of their rhythm section set the backdrop for some truly explorative melodies and solos. Although they played to an audience of maybe a hundred people, it could not have mattered any less if they had played the Staples Center, or a basement. Eyes closed, bodies moving to the beat, they played as though for no other reason than to unleash the flow of music from within.


ELVIS DEPRESSEDLY at Starry Nites Festival; photo Joey Pedroza

On the heels of this performance was the decidedly different, though no less immersive, ELVIS DEPRESSEDLY. Gone were the two drummers, or even just one drummer, with the band’s lo-fi, home-grown style being better served by a drum track. There is a quiet beauty to their brand of melancholic indie pop. Their setlist was a calming musical river, comprised of short songs with fluid melodies, carrying you gently down an ethereal stream of thoughts and impressions. I also distinctly remember the lower, bass frequencies being turned all the way up, so that my whole body would vibrate with each note. For this I have to commend the sound engineers, for it only further served to cradle my mind as I floated along.


KOLARS at Starry Nites Festival; photo Joey Pedroza

Up next was the disco-rock duo by name of KOLARS. Now, being a two-person band can be tough to pull off. Without the presence of a third person moving around and making noise, the band usually has to compensate by being consummate, inventive musicians. I say all of this because that is precisely what they were. In lieu of a standard drumset, Rob Kolar and Lauren Brown thought it would be better to kick the bass drum on its face so that she could tap dance on it. Accompanied by a single floor tom, a snare, and a little crash cymbal, Brown bashed passionately, which was all she needed to make the rhythm of each song feel complete.

Alongside Kolar’s powerful, gritty voice and rugged, pulsing, rock-n-roll guitar playing, as well as backing tracks bursting with funktastic bass lines, the band commanded us to escape ourselves in dance. And with sequined, shiny clothing, and an even more glittery guitar, the band seemed truly committed to the expression of their music. By the end of their set, they were panting and sweating and smiling, and so was I.


THE STRAWBERRY ALARM CLOCK at Starry Nites Festival; photo Joey Pedroza

While KOLARS may have been inspired by music of the past, THE STRAWBERRY ALARM CLOCK took it one step further by actually being music of the past. This seasoned group of rock veterans took the stage in honor of their 50th anniversary, making the band older than most of the performers on the lineup. But if you thought this meant the energy of their stage presence would be bogged down by age, think again. These old dudes still have it in them, taking us on a mind-expanding journey into the roots of psychedelic music. This was done with help of two drummers, electric sitars, two lead guitarists, bongos, a flute, a xylophone, and a masterful understanding of music. From a drum solo battle, to playing a guitar with drumsticks, to having two guitars embark on expertly nimble and mind blowing solos at the same damn time, these men were as involving and immersive as the drugs that influenced their music. Standing in a crowd of only a couple hundred people, I felt truly blessed to have been lucky enough to belong to such an exclusive, fortunate audience.


THE KILLS at Starry Nites Festival; photo Joey Pedroza

After THE KILLS absolutely slayed their headlining set, an acoustic after show was set to take place “down by the river,” at the edge of the festival grounds. Intrigued by the idea, and awake enough to go, I decided to head down for some lullaby rock.

Once I had passed all of the RV campers, security guards, and general festival noises, a winding path of light bulbs came into view. Hanging delicately on a wire beside a dirt road, they sprinkled the dark, forest landscape all the way down to a quiet, leaf covered, backyard patio. I took a seat amongst fellow music lovers and waited for the soothing sounds of an acoustic guitar. Following a day of fuzzed out, psychedelic craziness, I found myself most ready for a slower, gentler change of pace.

Starry Nites Festival

Starry Nites Festival; photo Joey Pedroza

After only a short wait, Brent Deboer (The Dandy Warhols) and Bob Harrow of IMMIGRANT UNION took the stage. What followed was not just slow and gentle, but also beautiful, melodious, tender, and authentic; music sung straight from the heart. The vocal harmonies of these two men were pitch perfect and the guitar playing was effortlessly serene. Unfortunately, so soothing was the music that the notes soon began to fall upon my mind like warm, musical blankets. So that after only three songs or so, I had been sufficiently lullabied. As I stumbled back to my camp, the sounds of the acoustic show bouncing ever more faintly against my back, I smiled gratefully at the thought of doing it all again tomorrow.

Lights Out Cells Up!

UFO's Phil Mogg; photo James Christopher

UFO’s Phil Mogg; photo James Christopher

After 50 years of hard rocking, hard touring and presumably hard living, UK’s UFO are calling it a day. No more short stops in towns around the globe, living out of a suitcase, or climbing on and off a tour bus. Fifty years. That’s right – fifty!

UFO (l-r Vinnie Moore, Phil Mogg); photo James Christopher

UFO (l-r Vinnie Moore, Phil Mogg); photo James Christopher

But, Feb. 21, 2020, UFO rocked the Tally Ho in Leesburg, VA and they rocked it hard. The only way they know how. They captured the audience the moment they heard the opening notes of “Mother Mary”.
By the way, this was one heck of a loyal audience. They refused to let a chilly 31-degree (and dropping) night keep them from going out and packing the venue, lining up around the block in two directions before the doors were even open. I doubt anyone has been following the band for 50 years, but hearing people talk, the majority have been fans for many, many years. And they were excited to be there!

UFO's Andy Parker; photo James Christopher

UFO’s Andy Parker; photo James Christopher

All through UFO’s classic set – “Lights Out,” “Only You Can Rock Me,” “Too Hot To Handle,” “Rock Bottom,” to name a few – everyone listened intensely, savoring every memorable note, following every lyric, one last time. The split second a song would end, the crowd would roar with satisfaction and elation.

I’ve seen UFO countless times and once again the epic “Love To Love” which is usually referred to as “Misty Green and Blue” took the audience to a whole new level. The back and forth of Vinnie playing acoustic and electric, the highs and lows of the melody, all teasing the inevitable badass solo, that is NEVER long enough.

UFO's Rob De Luca; photo James Christopher

UFO’s Rob De Luca; photo James Christopher

This night, Phil Mogg took the stage looking exceptionally dapper wearing a stylish hat and polka dot blazer, which he removed halfway through the third song, not missing a beat, of course. He later joked about all the rock star moves he knew including microphone twirls. He even pushed Vinnie Moore to join him in sucking in his cheeks demonstrating the ultimate rock star pose.

UFO's Neil Carter; photo James Christopher

UFO’s Neil Carter; photo James Christopher

As the night was nearing the inevitable, Phil mumbled a few words negating the point of leaving the stage and coming back for a couple more songs. Instead, Vinnie teased the gentle opening notes of “Doctor Doctor” and then, right on cue, both the band and the audience exploded into an orgasmic, fist-pumping, rock-n-roll frenzy.

One more song to follow – “Shoot Shoot” – and it was all over – turning the night into a bittersweet but satisfying memory.

Porcupine And MC50 Rock The Night

Porcupine; photo Moses Choi

Porcupine; photo Moses Choi

Being a product of the 70s, Hüsker Du’s Zen arcade was a part of the soundtrack from my youth as a teen. So, a chance to see Porcupine with Greg Norton on bass was something I couldn’t pass up on… oh and they were opening up for the MC50.

Greg Norton, Porcupine; photo Moses Choi

Greg Norton, Porcupine; photo Moses Choi

Without much fanfare as the crowd shuffled in, Casey Virock (guitar/vocals), Ian Prince (drums) and Mr. Greg Norton plugged in and rocked the hell out. Now I’m not going to lie, I’ve never heard Porcupine before and I had no idea what to really expect other than Norton’s thundering bass.

Casey Virock, Porcupine; photo Moses Choi

Casey Virock, Porcupine; photo Moses Choi

Sure enough the goods were delivered. Virock’s guitar melodies and vocal layers gave the perfect mix for Norton’s gritty lead bass style while still being modest to the punk roots. I couldn’t even spot a set list. They were seasoned veterans winning me over with each song.

Norton is still limber, lightning calloused fingers, sweating bullets and still looking badass with his handlebar mustache. By the time the set was over the floor was filled with eager fans for the MC50, showing respect to Porcupine for a standout performance.

MC50; photo Moses Choi

MC50; photo Moses Choi

MC50, not to be outdone, came out blazing and full of energy. Holy shit, I felt like a kid at a circus. Watching them deliver song after song with everything they have is like a Blues Brothers show on acid. This is what rock-n-roll is about.

Wet But Wonderful Reggae Fest

IRATION; photo Andy Ortega

IRATION; photo Andy Ortega

One Love Cali Reggae Fest held its 4th annual 3-day music festival once again at the grounds next to the Queen Mary in Long Beach. This year there were returning bands and artists such as Iration, Pepper, Stick Figure as well as some new bands on the rise in the reggae scene.

Arriving to the festival grounds is pretty easy since there were plenty of lighted signs directing you to the surrounding area where there were several parking structures. If you arrive during the day, don’t hesitate to head for the main parking area since it’s not crowded and easy to get into. Once you’re parked, there’s a short walk to the shuttles that run every few minutes to take you over the bridge to the peninsula where the event is held.

Once at the entrance, there is strict security which has become the norm at any large event – even at events called “One Love”. In any case, you’ll be glad to know that there’s many precautions made by the One Love event team to be sure we have a good time while being safe. Although you’ll see people getting wasted on various concoctions at any music event, it’s reggae and it’s such a chill environment with families and even children and babies! Be sure to read the list of prohibited items before getting into the festival since I did see someone getting their bottle of booze confiscated.

Inside the festival, you’ll find plenty of ways to satisfy your hunger, thirst or shopping desires. There was food provided by restaurants and food trucks such as The Jamaica Place, Fat Dragon, and The Pink Taco truck. Just about every band had a merchandise booth so you could dance the night away in your favorite artist’s T-shirt if you wanted to.

ATMOSPHERE; photo Andy Ortega

ATMOSPHERE; photo Andy Ortega

February in SoCal usually brings rain, and this year it rained each festival day and I was able to spot out the newbies pretty easily. They wore white canvas shoes with insufficient tread and not enough upper body clothing. I’m glad you feel cute, but the One Love Festival is serious business and you’ll need to prepare for partying in cold downpours. I’m talking hiking boots and multiple layers, plus a hat or even better, a beanie and gloves. On the first night, I wore two thermal long sleeve shirts and a hoodie, but I was still cold. Hey, we’re Californians and we forget how cold and rainy it gets in February sometimes.

Hiking boots will give you special privileges and abilities at this festival. There are pockets of muddy and slippery areas even though the event staff laid out some turf material over much of it to prevent slips – I still saw people fall in the mud and everyone would cheer (and help them up of course). It was awesome. But with hiking boots, you can walk right through muddy areas where no one else dares venture. You can have your own private area in the middle of a giant puddle if you want!

There were a few performances that really stood out for me this year. While Dispatch isn’t quite reggae, their show on Saturday afternoon was filled with energy and it was contagious. Iration never fails to attract large crowds. As their set began, even though I wasn’t anywhere near the front of the stage, my personal space dwindled away with more and more people trying to move closer until I could barely move without bumping into someone. Another artist that turned lots of heads was Atmosphere. He’s a rapper from Minneapolis and he doesn’t mumble. You can actually understand everything he says, and you’ll love it. Atmosphere took the energy at One Love and turned it up about three notches. We needed it too because it was freezing but there’s nothing like being next to the California ocean, palm trees silhouetted against the sunset and rocking out to your favorite artists.

Bauhaus Summons Fans On Rainy Night In Anaheim

Peter Murphy of Bauhaus; photo James Christopher

Peter Murphy of Bauhaus; photo James Christopher

Prancing and preening, Peter Murphy, currently sporting an admirable gray goatee, gave Bauhaus fans exactly what they desired with his stage antics bringing each song to life. He was completely locked in from the opening strains of “Double Dare”, which kicked off the main set that featured In The Flat Fields in chronological order.

It may have been pouring rain outside on a Wednesday night in SoCal, but the Bauhaus faithful didn’t let that stop them from showing up and they were rewarded tenfold. This was the first night of the US portion for the 40th anniversary tour and the band was on fire!

David J and Peter Murphy of Bauhaus; photo James Christopher

David J and Peter Murphy of Bauhaus; photo James Christopher

David J, with his signature fair hair and dark shades, was back in the fold and his style of playing bass brought an element to the songs not easily duplicated. His nimble fingers picking and strumming his fretless bass through the set of songs he helped create 40 years ago.

Mark Thwaite effortlessly played the guitar riffs and melodies Bauhaus fans know so well as he has many times over the years with Murphy. I couldn’t see who was playing drums, but he captured the recognizable drum patterns of songs such as “Nerves” throughout the night.

Peter Murphy of Bauhaus; photo James Christopher

Peter Murphy of Bauhaus; photo James Christopher

Murphy’s voice was extremely strong, recreating all the hooks and nuances of every song, while simultaneously moving about the stage. He never stopped moving the whole night. At times he reminded me of a caged predator, a feral cat at the San Diego Zoo, pacing back and forth in its cage. The stage was his cage and he covered every inch of it as he transformed from one character to the next, subtle clothing changes included.

Peter Murphy of Bauhaus; photo James Christopher

Peter Murphy of Bauhaus; photo James Christopher

His command of the audience grew with each song, captivating and mesmerizing, as the second set kicked in with eight more beloved Bauhaus songs including, “She’s In Parties,” “Silent Hedges,” “Dark Entries,” and the granddaddy of them all, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”. Seldom played in its entirety, often as part of a medley, tonight Murphy gave it his best. The crowd went insane as his sinister glare, piercing blue eyes, and otherworldly stance mimicked the iconic vampire while chanting the lyric “Undead, undead, undead”.

Peter Murphy of Bauhaus; photo James Christopher

Peter Murphy of Bauhaus; photo James Christopher

All night the lighting on stage captured the atmosphere of the music, often awash in shadow and dark colors yet, each member was spot lit just enough that you could engage in what was happening. The sound mix was reliably superb as is standard for the Grove of Anaheim.

“Passions Of Lovers” began the first encore followed by the T. Rex classic “Telegram Sam” and Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust”.

Murphy spun, pranced, paced and captivated the audience for 90 minutes ending with one last haunting encore of Dead Can Dance’s “Severance”.

Jonty Balls of Desert Mountain Tribe; photo James Christopher

Jonty Balls of Desert Mountain Tribe; photo James Christopher

But earlier, before Bauhaus delighted us, kicking off the night was the English psych band Desert Mountain Tribe. I was thrilled to see they were on the bill and they were fantastic. The crowd was drawn to the music from the very first song, their energy and hypnosis sucking them in. The trio had a perfect, full sound, all instruments mixed together nicely.

Shouts of “What’s the name of your band?” could be heard by the second song and finally singer/guitarist Jonty Balls said something along the lines of, “Got off a fucking plane two hours ago. We’re from London. We’re called Desert Mountain Tribe.”

Matthew Holt of Desert Mountain Tribe; photo James Christopher

Matthew Holt of Desert Mountain Tribe; photo James Christopher

I don’t think anyone caught the name because after a nice, long, trippy instrumental bit that spellbound the audience, I could hear more shouts of, “Who are you? You’re amazing.” A couple cornered me and asked me point blank the name of the band, which they repeated back to me a few times until they got it.

If they really did arrive two hours before hitting the stage they must have been running on pure adrenaline, playing their songs seemed second nature because they were tight and got more amped as their set continued.

Frank van der Ploeg of Desert Mountain Tribe; photo James Christopher

Frank van der Ploeg of Desert Mountain Tribe; photo James Christopher

By their last song, “The King” which builds nicely for five or six minutes, the guitar reaching sonic proportions to the groove laid down by the bass and drums, the crowd was ecstatic and cheered enthusiastically.

Goth meets Psych. A seamless transition to the new millennium.

If you’re a fan of Bauhaus, you can still catch them in L.A. at the Novo Feb. 28 but arrive early to catch Desert Mountain Tribe. You’ll be glad you made the effort.