It has been a long 28-year wait to see Little Caesar live, another one of those bucket list bands that I truly never expected to see live. The past few months have been pretty kind to me bucket list wise. A lot of my favorite albums that played a big part in me growing up were released in 1989/90. And a lot of those bands have visited the UK recently!
I still remember the first time I heard “Chain of Fools” on Raw Power TV show. An hour-long programme broadcast on terrestrial UK TV at 2am on a Saturday morning! I wasn’t paying much attention but recognized the song and heard this wonderful groove and warm, soulful vocal. Rewinding the video cassette to listen again I remember how the image really would not have led to the expectation of the music that I heard. I fell in love with the track, but I was still at school at this time with limited funds. But luckily I had a friend who bought the album and recorded me a cassette of it. (The same friend later did me a cassette of The Four Horsemen!)
I was pretty much all about hair metal and harder rock/metal back then. So this album was a big departure from the other things I was listening to at the time. I fell in love with Ron’s rich, warm vocals and the bluesy but amazingly danceable swagger of the songs. It is no secret Ron could sing a takeaway menu and I would love it! Two of my all-time favorite Little Caesar tracks, “From The Start” and “Cajun Panther” are on this album. I was impressed enough to dutifully count my pennies and buy a copy of the album.
Alas, I was too young to be able to see them live in the early 90’s so after Influence and their disappearance from the scene I thought I had missed my opportunity. For the last 15 years, I too have been off the scene. Life got in the way and I focused on other things. Amazingly although I didn’t really keep up to date with many bands I did know about the release of Redemption and American Dream. So at least I did keep up with Little Caesar albums. Sadly I was unable to go and see them when they visited the UK in 2014.
Fast forward to 2018. I am back living in England, back on the scene and Little Caesar came to visit. I certainly wasn’t going to miss this opportunity. A lot of bands seem to skip Newcastle as UK tours have become shorter. Therefore I was ecstatic that they were playing The Cluny. I was reliably informed by friends who had seen them in recent years that I would not be disappointed.
Last night was a very cold, English winters night (really they couldn’t have brought us any Californian sunshine?). But we still had a respectable turnout and The Cluny was soon hotter than hell.
The band came on without fanfare and launched straight into “Drive It Home”. The sound was spot on and the band was tighter than Kylie Minogue’s hot pants! The Cluny crowd was won over straight away by the band’s warmth and enthusiasm and us ladies (and a few gentleman) were soon dancing.
We were treated to plenty of banter from Ron and some great stories. I always feel a frontman that makes an effort to connect with their audience, no matter how large or small, is worth their weight in gold. There are too many bands now (especially from 80’s 90’s) who seem to go through the motions and make no effort to connect with their audience (Newcastle was spoiled this week having had another couple of other great storytellers, Dan Reed and Danny Vaughn earlier in the week). A bit of humility is far more endearing than the remnants of a 1980’s ego!
Ron was in great voice, in spite of recovering from bronchitis. With so many bands of that era having vocalists who are struggling these days, it is wonderful to hear someone who has held on to that gift. Special mention also has to go guitarist Loren Molinare who is one of the most energetic guitarists I have seen in a while, I was exhausted watching him.
The setlist encompassed a great range of favorites from the earlier albums as well as a couple of tracks from the new album. Upon hearing the new tracks I was grateful to hear that like Junkyard the band really have not strayed from their roots and the sound that made us fall in love with them in the first place.
All too soon the band left the stage for the first time. Thankfully we were not kept waiting long for our encore, which started with “Chain Of Fools”. We were also treated to The Four Horsemen’s “Nobody Said It Was Easy”. That album was a firm favorite of a few good friends and myself back in the day. As they were another band I never had the opportunity to see it was a bit of an unexpected bucket list moment to hear that track live. Would it be too much to hope for a Manic Eden track on the next jaunt to the UK?
Although not listed on the set list we were also lucky enough to get one of my all-time favorites “Cajun Panther”. If my feet were not sore earlier they were by the end of that track. I can truly say that track manages to be dirtier and sleazier than any glam or hair metal song from back in the day!
Sadly eventually the set came to an end. I sincerely hope I do not have to wait 28 years to see Little Caesar again!