Photos and review by: Jason Robey
SCOTTSDALE, AZ — It was hair, tattoos, and leather as far as the eye could see at BLK Live in Scottsdale on Thursday night, as 80s hard rock veterans, Faster Pussycat, brought their Glitterbox tour through town for one of the final stops. The backdrop for the evening was set before the show even started by a short, but intense monsoon storm that tore through the area leaving the outdoor venue soaked, and the swimming pool in front of the stage void of people. Lightning danced across the sky in all directions. Though the rain stopped before the show began, the sky flashed in the distance until well after everyone went home.
The show kicked off with a short stand-up comedy set by Don Jamieson, the former co-host of MTV’s That Metal Show, which ended its 14-year run in 2015. Jamieson’s routine was mostly centered around metal artists, such as Ozzy Osbourne, Lita Ford, and even some mentions of Faster Pussycat vocalist, Taime Downe. His jokes, usually as raunchy as the rock stars he’s talking about, were well-received by the crowd, which was already starting to fill in.
When Jamieson left the stage, the audience was left without entertainment for only a few minutes before the lights went down for Los Angeles-based Paradise Kitty, an all-female Guns N’ Roses cover band, and the five-piece tribute group rocked through the covers as if they were their own. Taking to the stage with “Out Ta Get Me,“ the group tore through a dozen of some of Guns’ most popular and hard rocking songs, mostly from their 1987 classic debut album, Appetite for Destruction. Vocalist Jenna Syde moved across the stage with her twist on trademark Axl Rose snake-dancing and stage command, as she sang through the vocal snarl of “Mr. Brownstone,“ smoothly to the high-pitched crooning of “Sweet Child O’ Mine.“
To Syde’s right, lead guitarist Ariel Bellvalaire, whipped her hair with wild rock ‘n’ roll abandon, literally bending over backwards, as she faithfully played Slash’s riffs and solos note-for-note, while still sounding natural and raw. The rhythm section, made up of guitarist Shani Kimmelman, bassist Jessica Fagre, and drummer Rachael Rhine, rounded out the lineup. They provided a musical thunder to complement the dazzling lightning show in the sky as if by plan. Following their closing number, one of Guns N’ Roses most well-known songs, “Paradise City,“ the crowd cheered for more as they walked off, leaving time for Don Jamison to run through another short stand-up set while the stage was changed for the evening’s headliner.
As the lights went down once again, Faster Pussycat took to the stage, immediately transporting much of the crowd back to the days of MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball with their hard rock opener, “Jack the Bastard,” from the 1992 album, Whipped!. Vocalist Taime Downe, the only original member, led the group through an hour and a half of crowd-pleasing, guitar-driven sleaze rock, spanning their four studio albums with a handful of covers rounding out the set.
Guitarist Ace Von Johnson, who has been with the group since 2010, shredded his American flag axe with an attitude straight from a mid-80s Sunset Boulevard heavy-metal club, tearing through songs like “Where There’s a Whip There’s a Way, “and “Cathouse.” On the other side of the stage, rhythm guitarist Xristian Simon stayed more in the shadows to show off his LED lit guitar. The band only slowed the pace down once, mid-set as Downe took a seat center-stage on a road case for the band’s biggest hit, the 1989 ballad, “House of Pain,“ bringing the ladies of Paradise Kitty back to the stage for group background vocals.
The audience jumped into a screaming frenzy as drummer Chad Stewart kicked into the opening rhythmic thunder of “Bathroom Wall,“ a staple of the band’s set since the beginning of its career. Halfway through the song, Don Jamieson came back to the stage, this time to take over lead vocals as the band shifted into a cover of the Cheap Trick song, “He’s a Whore.“ He then stepped aside for bassist Danny Nordahl to take center stage and sing a couple verses of “Pretty Fucked Up,“ originally by The Supersuckers, before the group slipped back into the final chorus of “Bathroom Wall.“ Downe noted that people were starting to get in the pool, just as it was time to close out the show with “Babylon,” the first single from their debut released more than 30 years ago.
The Glitterbox tour with Faster Pussycat and Paradise Kitty ends this week, watch for more dates from each of the bands on social media.