With Casino Rama being close to home I frequent shows there quite a bit, so naturally when a cool band like Kings of Chaos is playing, I’m there. For those who don’t know, Kings of Chaos is a cover band with an ever-changing set list and lineup. It’s basically a rock star jam band. The core members are Matt Sorum (Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver), Duff McKagen (Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver), and Gilby Clarke (Guns N’ Roses, Rock Star Supernova). The rest of the lineup is different all the time. Everyone has been in this band, musicians like: Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top), Cory Taylor (Slipknot, Stone Sour), Joe Elliott (Def Leppard), Steven Tyler (Aerosmith), the list goes on. When they came to Casino Rama on October 31st the core members, Matt Sorum, Duff McKagen and Gilby Clarke were joined by Sebastian Bach (Skid Row , solo career) on vocals, Steve Stevens (Billy Idol, Michael Jackson, Vince Neil, Sebastian Bach, solo career, etc.) on lead guitar, and Robin Zander (Cheap Trick) on vocals. A fairly good lineup to say the least.
I’m not a huge fan of Casino Rama shows for a number of reasons. For one there is no open floor section so you’re restricted to your seat, and by restricted to your seat I mean you can’t leave your seat or get too excited because the security is tight, and by tight I mean they’re everywhere, and by everywhere I mean there’s probably a security guard for every single row. You can stand up if it’s that kind of show, which Kings Of Chaos was, but I’ve seen some shows at Casino Rama where if you’re the only one standing security asks you to sit down. Another reason I’m not a big fan of seeing shows at this particular venue is there are no drinks allowed in the theatre, you can only drink in the hall where they serve the drinks. I know this is somewhat common but in my experience, the best shows involved alcoholic beverages being served during the show. Also, the crowd is usually made up of fans of the band, people who got the tickets given to them and people who were rewarded the tickets for losing all their money in the casino, these people usually leave after a few songs. So in a lot of cases, you get a pretty unenergetic audience. On the positive side, Rama’s theatre has incredible sound. It’s probably the best sounding venue I’ve ever been in and I have seen some pretty great shows there despite my previous complaints.
The Kings Of Chaos show started out great, they opened with “Welcome to the Jungle,” the timeless opening track from my favorite GNR album, Appetite for Destruction. They crushed it, it sounded amazing. Next came another Guns N’ Roses favorite “It’s So Easy” and once again they killed it, which really is no surprise with three of Kings Of Chaos’ members being former members of GNR and Sebastian Bach sounding more like Axel Rose than Axel Rose these days. “Youth Gone Wild,” my personal favorite Skid Row tune was next and it sounded really good as well. They really came out strong and the crowd seemed to be pretty pumped which really helps the show be that much more enjoyable, especially at a place like Rama. Then Robin Zander came out to sing and that’s when things got a little slow for my liking. I know to some of you this will probably sound like blasphemy, but I’ve never been a fan of Cheap Trick. I can respect the impact and influence they’ve had on rock music, but that doesn’t mean I have to like their music. Anyway, I knew there was going to be Cheap Trick songs with Robin Zander being in the band and all but I didn’t expect so many, especially all in a row. Out of twenty songs, five of them were Cheap Trick songs, four were Guns N’ Roses, two Skid Row tunes, two Billy Idol tunes and one song each by Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Deep Purple, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and Fats Domino. They played “Hello There,” “Surrender” and “I Want You to Want Me” all in a row which judging by half the crowd sitting back in their seats was a bit of an energy killer. The crowd started to liven up a bit when the band picked things back up with “Rebel Yell” by Billy Idol, followed by “Eyes without a Face.” “Eyes without Face” wasn’t really a great choice of songs, in my opinion, it’s not in Sebastian or Robin’s normal vocal range so it didn’t sound so great to be honest. Skid Row’s “I Remember You” came next and things got a little better but still not great. Sebastian and Robin did a duet for this one and that was a bad choice too. Sebastian sounded awesome, Robin, on the other hand, was way out of key. Robin redeemed himself on the next one, though, he sounded great on Fats Domino’s “Ain’t That a Shame,” which is a perfect song for his voice. Then things got even better from there when Kings of Chaos played another favorite Guns N’ Roses song, “Mr. Brownstone” and again, they delivered another amazing GNR cover. Next came another double shot of Cheap Trick which was surprising to me seeing as they already played three Cheap Trick songs earlier in the show. They played “The Flame” which was a real sleeper and “Dream Police.” The Beatles classic “Come Together” was next on Kings Of Chaos‘ set and it was very well done, to say the least, everyone sounded really tight on this one. For the next couple songs, the acoustic guitars and tambourines came out for “Dead Flowers” by The Rolling Stones and “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” by Bob Dylan. “Dead Flowers” featured Gilby Clarke and Robin Zander singing a duet while playing acoustic guitars and wasn’t bad at all. “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” was a little disappointing in one sense that they didn’t do it Guns N’ Roses style but, on the other hand, they definitely beefed it up compared to the original and it was a pretty decent cover in the end. Deep Purple’s “Highway Star” came next and it was awesome. Steve Stevens played all the solos pretty spot on and even did the keyboard parts on his guitar, Sebastian sounded really good on this one as well, definitely a highlight of the show for me. Next came Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” and it was another highlight of the show as well. Everything from the guitar solo to the drums to the vocals was really well done. They finished off the regular set with AC/DC’s “It’s A Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll)” which they played pretty well. The encore was an obvious choice and a good one, “Paradise City,” the massive Guns N’ Roses hit. They definitely saved the best for last. A great way to end a mediocre show, on a high note.
Overall the Kings Of Chaos show at Rama was just ok. It was cool to see all these guys jamming together in person, but ultimately that’s exactly what it was, a jam session by some famous rock stars in front of an audience. There was some really good covers and some not so good covers. The set list was not well thought out in my opinion. I feel like they should have spread out the ballads and slower songs a little better or even played less of those type of songs, it really brings down the energy in the audience. Also, some of the song choices were not in the normal key these particular vocalists sing in. My other problem with the set list is that there were five Cheap Trick songs when there is only one member from Cheap Trick in Kings of Chaos, it was just too much. Personally, I could have done with another Skid Row or Billy Idol cover instead. Another thing that I noticed was some of the band members were looking off stage a lot talking to people off stage almost like they were asking what song was coming up next or something. On the positive side, the band sounded really tight. The rhythm section was a fine-tuned machine and Steve Stevens really ripped some spectacular solos. Sebastian Bach was really funny between songs, he kept it interesting during some of the slower parts which was a big plus. He sounded really good live, I was very impressed with some of the notes he was hitting. Robin Zander definitely still has a great voice and he sounded great on a lot of songs. He had a few hiccups but overall, not too bad. Kings of Chaos was pretty fun and if they come to your area it’s worth checking out. As far a cover bands go they’re pretty good.
Shawn “Short-Fuse” Carter
PHOTOS BY: Sue Sadzak