Friday, August 15, 2014

The Sonics at the Hard Rock Live on the Strip - Thursday August 14

The Swamp Gospel was thrilled to open this show for the living legends, the Sonics! Currently composed of original members Jerry Rosalie (vocals/keys), Larry Parypa (guitar/vocals), Rob Lind (sax/harp/vocals) and relative newcomers Freddie Dennis (bass/vocals) and wildman drummer Dusty Watson, these cats made their first appearance ever in Las Vegas last night and those that showed up are damn glad they did. Those who missed it missed the show of the year (decade?)!

Opening with Parypa's monstrously huge guitar chords (he is heavier than ever!), the band blasted into "Cinderella" and knocked everyone out right from the start! Jerry is obviously saving his voice so he doesn't sing every song, so bassist Freddie took this one and blew everyone away! What a voice he has! Turns out, among other groups, he played with other Northwest heroes, the Kingsmen in the past, so he is well aware of the sound and style of this group.

They never let up on the intensity, moving into Larry's riff on ""Shot Down" and then everyone's favorite ode to Satan, "He's Waiting", both with Jerry taking the lead and sounding amazing. He still pounds the keys as well, and adds some great piano and organ sounds to the tunes. Freddie took "Dirty Robber", back to Jerry for "Have Love, Will Travel" and then a new number, "Sugaree", sounding just like it could have come off of one of their old albums! All the new numbers were stellar - unfortunately, they had sold out of the new record already! Rob picked up his harp and blew and sang lead on the stomper, "You Got Your Head On Backwards Baby" and then another new one, "Be a Woman", which sounded even heavier than the rest, if that's possible, and it was sung in harmony with both Jerry & Freddie throughout.

Showing that they haven't lost their demented sense of humor, another new one was called "I Got Your Number (and its 666)"! "Keep a'Knockin'" and then another newbie, "Bad Betty", before every car cruiser's (and there were a few there last night!) fave "Boss Hoss". Freddie took "Hey Little Sister", then "Money" and their pre-heavy-metal take on "Louie Louie", which had the guys laughing at some private in-jokes - always cool to see the band having as good of a time as the audience! "Psycho" closed the set with Jerry coming in where Larry should have taken a solo, much to his humorous consternation.

The crowd stomped and shouted for more and the guys complied with "I Don't Need No Doctor" (a cool surprise) and then the one-two punch of "Strchynine" and "The Witch"! Wow!

Everything about the show was awe-inspiring and a rockin'n'rollickin' good time! Yes, they're older, grayer and a bit paunchier (and Jerry was reading lyrics from a music stand with reading glasses!), but they dressed snazzily for the show and everyone's playing was beyond top-notch! Loved the sax, the rhythm section were excellent (drummer Dusty was a blast to watch and hear - sorry that my camera couldn't get a good pic), Larry's guitar playing was better than ever - he certainly has lost nothing over the years (I feel old in comparison!) - and hearing Jerry's shrieks live were spine-tingling!

If you ever have the chance, catch them while you can - everyone in Vegas is saying that it was the show of the year!