On one of the hottest days of the summer in Southern California, Cathouse Live took over the Irvine Meadows Amphitheater in Irvine, CA and made it even hotter. Fans lined up for what was set to be a resurrection of the Famous Cathouse Club originally opened in 1986 loaded with rock n’ roll, girls and all the debauchery of the days of old. Doors opened and 2:00 and as fans slowly started making their way into the venue and over to the main stage area, last month’s Battle Of The Bands Winners named Swamphammer graced the stage and clearly proved their worthiness of being there. The were following by BulletBoys who are also receiving praise on their newest album Elefante which was released in June. Frontman Marq Torien’s powerhouse vocals echoed through the venue and while the audience was still growing due to the excessive heat of the day as well as the fact there was also a festival stage full of more bands, BulletBoys played their hearts out including songs like Smooth Up In Ya, Hell On My Heels and For The Love Of Money to name just a few. This is when the show was shifted into high gear because BulletBoys came, played and conquered their set like they always do. While Torien’s vocals are always exquisitely powerful and impressive, he hit new heights during their set which left many impressed and anyone who was not yet a fan is surely now an official BulletBoys fan. These guys always play with everything they have and it shows in their music. Just wish more people would have been out in the audience because they missed a magnificent rock n’ roll set. With the rotating stage, it was non-stop rock n’ roll which kept the momentum and minimized the lag in between sets. As BulletBoys hit their last note, the stage brought out Trixter who played hits like One In A Million, Surrender and lHeart Of Steel. They were followed by Black N Blue, Autograph, Junkyard, Saigon Kick, L.A. Guns, Dangerous Toys and Faster Pussycat. Since Taime Downe, frontman for Faster Pussycat was Riki Rachtman’s partner in crime in starting the Cathouse when they were roommates, this is when things really started to pick up as far as the energy level of everyone there. It probably also had something to do with the cooling down of the day but one thing was for certain is that everyone came out to show nothing but love for Rachtman and the Cathouse. But back to Faster Pussycat, they had the crowd eating out of the palm of their hands. The whole audience was singing along as they appropriately started off with their song Cathouse followed by House Of Pain and Bathroom Wall. Stephen Pearcy from Ratt also brought it with hit songs like Lay It Down, Back For More and Round And Round. As Dokken took the stage with Kiss Of Death, Breaking The Chains and In My Dreams, while they were absolutely incredible, it was clear that Don Dokken was not happy with the technical difficulties and seemed to have overdid it vocally trying to compensate. However, he never stopped and didn’t disappoint fans, he kept on and pushed through and they truly were one of the most memorable.
Sebastian Bach came out swinging a microphone and belting out his timeless rock n’ roll classics like 18 and Life, Youth Gone Wild and most memorably I Remember You. As the music began, Bach asked everyone to take their phones out and light them up. The audience happily obliged and the entire amphitheater lit up. Clearly the days of taking out your Bic lighter and burning your thumb on the flame are over, as the audience was able to keep the light going through the entire song. Bach’s fiance was standing side stage with a handheld video camera recording, Bach continuously walked over to her playing up the camera and then when the instrumental part of the song came, he brought her onto center stage and kissed her passionately. It was as if he was singing it to her. A kiss that all the single female fans in the audience were wishing they were on the receiving end of. The other memorable part was when he started singing 18 And Life, Riki Rachtman came onstage briefly for the opening line “Ricky was a young boy, he had a heart of stone” or should we say “Riki.” Tom Kiefer of Cinderella was just insane. And his rendition of Joe Cocker’s version of the Beatle’s With a Little Help From My Friends was the absolute highlight. It also brought about a sentimental feeling connecting all bands performing, the audience and everyone involved in this event together. It was one of the greatest moments of the whole event. Extreme sounded just as good if not better than ever with songs like Decadence Dance, Wholehearted, Get The Funk Out and their successful love ballad More Than Words. Gary Cherone is still one hell of a vocalist and continues to escalate anything he sings with perfection. Nuno Bettencourt remains one of the best lead guitarists and their chemistry is undeniable musically.
Finally, we get to Gilby Clarke’s All-Stars and that is not saying enough, As Riki Rachtman rode out from backstage on a motorcycle and thanked everyone for their attendance and for bringing Cathouse back to life, it was a bittersweet symphony of rock, emotion and nostalgia that came along with the final performances that included Gilby Clarke, Sebastian Bach and absolute badassery with Ace Frehley performing together. Trying to put the feeling everyone had during this set into words is close to impossible but one could classify it as a once in a lifetime performance. As the curfew was approaching in the city of Irvine, the band didn’t stop playing and the stage rotated to the back while they continued on to the final note. And there it was, Cathouse Live is now in the history books.
For all of you who were able to go to the original Cathouse in its heyday, you are envied by those of us who were too young to go but thankfully Rachtman decided to bring back to life a piece of history because rock n’ roll has always been relevant and timeless and it has never died so for those who never had the pleasure of experiencing a piece of this heavenly debauchery and music, it was just the prescription for withdrawals from the heart of good old fashioned 80’s rock n’ roll. Taking away the minor technical difficulties that seemed to occur off and on throughout the day, none of the bands faltered in their performances. Rock n’ roll is timeless, it is a paragon, it never goes out of style. All of the bands who played still have all the heart and soul they started with years ago and are a true testament to the fact that rock n’ roll keeps you young, it keeps you moving and it was, is and always will be a way of life. This juxtaposition of bands and music was nothing short of brilliance and we can only hope Rachtman will bring this back again and again to connect more and more fans as well as bring new fans to the world of Cathouse. Everything dies eventually, but rock n’ roll, it never has to and it never will.
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