In the annals of Blues-based Hard Rock, the name of Cactus is a well-respected one. They were often referred to as the American Led Zeppelin and their reunion shows are loaded with melody and groove. The band would be returning to B.B. King Blues Club with The Lizards in tow as their opener. Our own Joe Kaufman was on point to bring this show’s highlights to those who could not attend.
Venue: B. B. King Blues Club (New York, NY)
Opener: the Lizards
Label: Escapi Music
My friend asked me what I was doing Tuesday night and I said I was going to see Cactus and the Lizards. He then said, “What are you going to the desert?” I replied, “No, I am going to BB Kings in NYC to catch some Rock with the bands The Lizards and Cactus”.
The night started with the Lizards, a rocking group we have covered at Piercing Metal numerous times. Once again, the Lizards deliver a solid, hard rocking set of original classic rock influenced songs. An expertly executed blend of elements from 70’s and 80’s Hard Rock and Metal. Drummer Bobby Rondinelli (Rainbow, Black Sabbath, BOC) along with bassist Randy Pratt get a great heavy dynamic groove going, while guitarist Patrick Klein lays down the riffs, and highly musical leads. Vocalist and Keyboardist Mike DiMeo also adds some excellent keyboard playing along with his strong vocals. Their set had a dynamic range of songs from riff rockers, funky bluesy rock to dark and moody. A solid rocking band with a classic, yet fresh style. The band is supporting their recently released album “Against All Odds”. It’s a CD that bears checking out.
The main event of the evening was Cactus. This would be their third show since reforming and releasing a new album “V”. Cactus, consisted of drummer Carmine Appice and bassist Tim Bogert, the rhythm section of Vanilla Fudge, along with guitarist Jim McCarty from Mitch Ryder’s Detroit Wheels and The Buddy Miles Express, and singer Rusty Day from Ted Nugent’s Amboy Dukes. Day, who was tragically killed in 1982 is replaced in the reformed Cactus by Jimmy Kunes (Savoy Brown). The band was referred to as “The American Led Zeppelin” back in the day. Appice and Bogert are arguably one of the best rhythm sections in Rock. They provided a tight grooving swagger for McCarty to stretch out and jam while Kunes sounded great with his raw and bluesy delivery. He would prove to handle the classic Cactus songs with style but he remained true to the original vibe. During the show Randy Pratt from the Lizards would join them to add some fine harp playing to the mix. According to interviews Pratt was instrumental in the bands reformation. Time has not diminished the power of Cactus and it showed as they teared through a set of classics and songs from their new release. They would leave no doubt that they could rock. Both Appice and Bogart each had a solo spot to throw it down which they did in an impressive fashion and McCarty’s guitar playing was expressive with attitude and sting on every number. My personal favorites were the Super heavy Blues of “Evil” and the boogie Blues of “Parchment Farm” where the band jams hard and could easily take lesser bands to school. Another stand out song for me was The Groover a track from the new album, with some killer harp from Randy Pratt and slinky slide playing from McCarty. All driven by Appice’s impeccable drumming, and Bogarts adventurous bass
I am happy I got a chance to see these guys kick out some classic power trio Blues-Rock to an enthusiastic Tuesday night crowd who were all singing along with their favorite songs. It is great to see that a band can return after thirty years and still impress with the mastery of their instruments, and continue to deliver the goods. I enjoyed the show and suggest fans or the curious pick up “V” by Cactus, available on Escapi Music.
1. Long Tall Sally
2. Let Me Swim
3. One Way or Another
4. Cactus Music
5. Brother Bill
6. Muscle and Soul
7. Oleo – Bass Solo
8. The Groover
9. Doing Time
10. Part of the Game
11. Evil – Drum Solo
12. Big Mama Boogie
13. Parchment Farm
14. Rock and Roll Children – encore
Here’s a shot that we captured of the venue marquee. I like to snap this whenever I remember to do it. I am sure that eventually it will become second nature.