There are concerts, and then there are concerts. The concerts are the ones you talk about for years, when you witness something special that in all likelihood will never be duplicated. Lita Ford’s concert at the Whisky in Hollywood was one of those rare events.
The Whisky is holding a series of concerts in commemoration of their 50th anniversary. The idea is “big bands, small club,” featuring now-famous bands that played the club in their formative years. In Ford’s case, that band would be the Runaways. The club was packed to the rafters (since the venue has an upper deck, the cliché is apropos).
Ford looks great, her voice sounds great, and her guitar playing is as good as ever. Much of the set list was the same as her most recent release The Bitch Is Back…Live, and her bandmates were also the ones with whom she recorded that album with: Mitch Perry on guitar, Marty O’Brien on bass and Bobby Rock on drums. (They were joined later by Teddy “Zig Zag” Andreadis on keyboard). As on the album, the gig opened with the cover of Elton John’s The Bitch Is Back.
The band tore through Relentless, Back To The Cave, Can’t Catch Me, and Out For Blood. Of particular note was the guitar interplay between Ford and Perry. In a recent interview with Screamer, Ford mentioned how much fun she has with Perry onstage, and it was apparent as they both traded solos and played in harmony. On some songs, Ford would put her guitar down to concentrate on vocals, leaving the guitar to Perry alone. He and Ford have different playing styles and use different instruments with unique tone qualities, but the six-string is in capable hands with either player.
Ford would drop hints after each song about special guests that were going to join her on stage, but she would keep the suspense going by launching into another song. As she was talking about the song Living Like a Runaway, which is an autobiographical tune about her time in that groundbreaking band, a figure in blonde hair came walking down the stairs: Cherie Currie, who was the lead vocalist in the Runaways. Naturally, the crowd erupted in delight. Currie, like Ford, looked fit, trim and ready to rock. Appropriately, she sang the lead to Living Like a Runaway.
For the next song, the Runaways’ biggest hit Cherry Bomb, they were joined by none other than Slash, looking as he always does with long black curls poking out from his trademark top hat. He and Currie remained on stage for Black Leather. After that song, Currie and Ford embraced and proclaimed to the audience how much they loved each other, and that feeling was clearly apparent to everyone in the club. It wasn’t just an act or a gimmick—the emotion between the two women was heartfelt.
The next guest to be introduced was Glenn Hughes, who has had a long career in music, but is most noted for his time in Deep Purple. Hughes was onboard for the phenomenally successful Burn album, and so Hughes, Ford and the band did a version of both the title track and Mistreated. Burn was originally a duet between Hughes and David Coverdale, and Hughes introduced the song by saying it was the first time he had done that song with a female vocalist. Ford reciprocated the favor by singing Close My Eyes Forever, with Hughes taking on the role sung by Ozzy Osbourne on original version.
Hughes has an over-the-top, ear-piercing falsetto that can be dramatic in certain situations. The problem is that subtlety isn’t a word in Hughes’ vocabulary. While Andreadis was playing the distinctive keyboard solo to Burn, Ford was looking at the audience and pointing to Andreadis to call attention to how well he was nailing the part. Unfortunately, Hughes stole the spotlight from Andreadis by wailing over it. Then, during Close My Eyes Forever there is a very dramatic harmony solo that Ford and Perry play together. Again, Hughes insisted on screaming over the solo, which was both annoying and unnecessary.After that, Hughes thankfully retreated to the sidelines as Ford closed out the show with her signature tune Kiss Me Deadly. There would be no encore this evening–it was close to 1:00 am, and both the band and audience were completely spent. The crowd, savoring what they had just seen and heard, filed out of the hot, stuffy club into the chilly January air on the Sunset Strip.