Chalk up another milestone for L.A.’s current favorite sons of rock n’ roll. Dirty Honey is smack dab in the middle of a 37 date supporting stint on the one year postponed Black Crowes tour commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Crowes debut, bank breaker album, Shake Your Money Maker. Since the release of their own self-titled full length debut album, Dirty Honey has not had an opportunity to play the new material in front of a hometown audience, until now. They have played big arenas before, but never in friendly confines. On August 19th, at the historic arena which has hosted all of the legends who they count as influences at one time or another, Dirty Honey enjoyed a homecoming appearance heating up The Forum in Inglewood.
In typical L.A. style, at 7:30 pm, the start time of their set, the arena is only about one-third filled. An unfortunate circumstance for the fashionably late, drummer, Corey Coverstone begins to pound out the galloping opening to Gypsy quite promptly at showtime. Aside from these guys living their presumed dream of playing arenas, you can see a special spark in them as they play for the almost certain collection of friends and family members who are in attendance. Guitarist John Notto and bassist Justin Smolian acknowledge familiar faces with a smile, or a finger point here and there, which is invariably followed with a cat that ate the canary grin. Who wouldn’t be wearing an ear to ear grin, as the only thing that could possibly be better than performing on stage at the Southern California landmark would be performing as the headliner? Give that thought just a little more time. Vocalist Marc LaBelle is his usual engaging self, encouraging crowd participation by extending the mic stand over the first few rows, and his voice is in perfect form.
After three originals, they treat the audience with their rendition of Aerosmith’s Last Child, which they did as a web-based release some months ago, when live music just wasn’t an option. The three non-vocal instrumentalists offer up abbreviated versions of their individual solos throughout. Midway through their set, the Fabulous Forum (it isn’t called that anymore, but it will always be that to me) is about two-thirds full as they embark on the back end of their slot. After mesmerizing the crowd with the soulful, slower paced Down The Road, they ratchet up the pace with the debut single from their self-titled album, California Deamin’ followed by The Wire. Heading into the homestretch, they unleash the soulful ballad Another Last Time which seems to get the attention of the growing gathering.
Now that they had the attention of the spectators, the last two songs of their allotted time made many of them stand up and take notice, literally. When Notto grinds out the opening riff of When I’m Gone, the tune that put them on the map, about three-quarters of the arena are on their feet. There they will remain through the duration of that song and the standard closer, the namesake of their first headlining tour, Rolling 7s. As the final number reaches its closing crescendo, the entire floor section is on its feet and sending out vocal approval of what they have just witnessed. Suffice it so say, there may have been some Angelinos who were not quite familiar yet with Dirty Honey. But for the ones who took off work early on a Thursday to make it there for their set, consider them duly initiated. As for this homecoming, there were definitely four men crowned co-kings and their last names were Coverstone, LaBelle, Notto and Smolian.
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