This year’s “March Metal Madness” led us into April’s events like a ravaging hurricane and since there were only a few days left to get ones taxes in order, it seemed like the best medicine would be some classic rock delivered with expertise by the one and only Cactus. If you are still in the dark about this band, well please know that they were referred to as the “American Led Zeppelin” by many and were formed by the rhythm section of the legendary Vanilla Fudge (Tim Bogert and Carmine Appice). When this was all kicked into gear back in 1970 the band would release a few albums but sadly they were only active for a couple of years until their many decades long absence was ended in 2006 with a reunion. The reunion gigs found original members Carmine Appice, Jim McCarty, and Tim Bogert back in action, but with Rusty Day being dead since 1982, the vocals would now be handled by Savoy Brown’s Jimmy Kunes. The reunited lineup would tour in an on and off fashion and since that time would deliver a live concert DVD as well as a CD on the no longer active Escapi Music. There were also times when some players would not be present and had fill in members delivering the goods. Tonight we would actually find this being the case as Tim Bogert would not be playing bass and in his shoes (so to speak) would be Elliot Dean.
Tonight the band had the Funky Knights opening up but we would not see them. When we learned how the bassist from The Lizards was a member of the group (one Randy Pratt) we were a little saddened that we did not get to check out what they did. Oh well, perhaps next time. The band hit the stage with a rock solid groove and delivered “Swim” as their first number and this was followed by the classic “Long Tall Sally” which is a song I think that every Blues-based Hard Rock outfit did at one time or another in their career. They were definitely off to a great start and the sound was tight. It was also cool to find McCarty back on guitar as the last time we had done a concert review of them he was not present. Kunes spoke to the crowd often about how appreciative they were for the support and he thanked Elliot for standing in for Tim. Apparently Dean is the CEO of the famous Dean Guitar Company. I had to say that he played a pretty solid bass and did a great job. Also doing a great job as expected was singer Kunes. He does have a different register from that of Rusty Day, but I feel he does great justice to the bands legacy tunes and holds the banner high on their newer material and proves the band can be continued with limited difficulty. For me the highlight had to be watching Carmine Appice do his thing in such a small and intimate venue. OK, so B.B. King’s is not exactly small, but it is intimate and when they have a table setup, there are fewer bodies to have to navigate around. The drummer is now in his sixties and he does not show it when he is slamming it down. The showmanship and skills that he is respected and worshiped for were all there and to witness his talent is to get an education on how to make a career of it. We would get a brief but powerful solo from Carmine as the set reached its inevitable close. We also got some appearances during the night by Randy Pratt who would play harmonica when it was needed. He is one mean harp player that's for sure and he is kind of an unofficial member of the band in some peoples eyes.
Kunes sent a shout out to the departed Day citing how he is missed by many and I guess this was around the bands classic “Parchment Farm” but I might be wrong. As far as their set list composition this evening, they did keep it to their established classics but would touch upon four numbers from the reunion release “Cactus V”. The band’s earlier releases are very hard to find and fetch a pretty penny so if you sample some of their stuff and enjoy it, we suggest you start scouring the bins at any used CD shop you might happen to know about. The newer album is still easily found but with that record company gone, who knows what will happen when the supplies run dry. The evening would be closed out by “Rock & Roll Children” from their “One Way, Or Another” album and that would be it. I was unaware if the band would come out and meet their fans but there were many folks waiting in the wings with original vinyl albums and photos for them to sign if they happened to do so. It was interesting to learn how Paul Reed Smith was in the house tonight but I didn’t catch sight of him and while this was a little bit of a bummer we did manage to speak to Kings X drummer Jerry Gaskill who was present and enjoying the show.
If you like the kind of stuff that Vanilla Fudge or Beck Bogert and Appice did then its safe to say that you would enjoy the sound of Cactus since while different from each of these endeavors does follow some similar musical themes and has the same fan base. I was happy to see them perform for such a large crowd and I only hope that someone will make their older albums available again with some bonus tracks or live stuff.
Have a comment for this particular concert article? Click HERE to leave us your views.
Official Web Site: www.cactusrocks.net
Share This Article