It’s a Thursday night in West Hollywood and rock n’ roll is alive and well. The Strip is buzzing with an electrical charge that has not been felt for quite some time. A few miles east of the famed Roxy, photographer Lisa Johnson has just completed the West Coast launch of her new book 108 Rock Star Guitars. Here on the Westside the Whisky is rockin’ to the sounds of Jack Russell, Lita Ford, Gilby Clarke, Phil Soussan and Brian Tichy, to name a few for the Rock Against MS benefit show. But as for me, I’m here at The Roxy for one reason—to see Walking Papers. Comprised of Jeff Angell (lead vocals/guitar), Duff McKagan (bass/backing vocals), Benjamin Anderson (keyboards/backing vocals) and Barrett Martin (drums/backing vocals) the legendary club was packed for their much anticipated performance.
Formed in Seattle, Washington in 2012 by Angell and Martin, Walking Papers have a heavy, groove-laden almost psychedelic sound. Kicking their 13-song set off with the 70’s vibin’ The Whole World’s Watching, the band immediately delivered what the crowd was waiting for—a tight, polished and professional unit, that to the untrained ear just sounded like a laid back jam session. Not wasting any time, they proceeded to their next song, the slightly more up tempo, Your Secret’s Safe With Me, showcasing frontman/guitarist Angell’s intense and gritty vocals, reminiscent of a Jim Morrison or Ian Astbury. Choosing to let their music do the talking rather than Angell the band continued to plow through their set, one song after the other. And although Walking Papers has a groovin’ sound on their CD, their live performance displays much more intense and high-energy versions of their music. Performing four new songs, Before You Arrived, Imagination, King Hooker and Red & White, those in attendance were treated to the latest and greatest.
If I had one criticism of the night it would be the lack of verbal communication with the audience. But hey, Angell is a talented musician—a shredding guitar player, powerhouse vocalist and accomplished songwriter, so why not highlight those talents? After all, those who can “do” those who can’t “talk” and while I like feeling engaged and part of the show, there’s something to be said about a band that leaves it all on the stage. If you’ve not heard Walking Papers’ self-titled debut, I would highly recommend it and if the opportunity arises for you to attend one of their live performances, don’t miss out. I can’t see fans giving them their “walking papers” anytime in the foreseeable future.
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