Many bands take a break between records but LA Band Little Caesar must actually be record breakers. It’s taken 17 years between releases. Mr Music in Bonn brought them back to Germany for a show at the Harmonie on Tuesday and they wasted no time in showing why they were once touted as the next big thing on Geffen Records.
“None of us associated ourselves with the hairspray thing” is a quote from Little Caesar singer Ron Young in the magazine ‘Classic Rock’. It’s certainly hard to imagine the band standing in front of me this evening as a contender for the Glam Rock crown and looking like Alice Cooper meets The Sweet. Time can be a hard Master of course, but factor in the fact that David Bowie guitarist Earl Slick was in the band at one point and you get an idea of how things could have gone famewise. Fame was never the bands aim though and singer Ron Young immediately dispels the ‘Rockstar’ bubble when he walks onstage. “It’s an honour to be here” he says, and follows it up with “for us I mean, not for you!” At shows end he again reiterates how honoured the band is that we’ve come out to see them. “Because we’re not rockstars” he says apologetically. We’re just some guys who love playing Rock n Roll”
Humility or humbug? Well the smiles and the energy looked genuine to me. True they’re no ‘Spring chickens’ but the effort onstage would put many a band half their ages (and talent) to shame. Aside from new guitarist Joey Brasler this is the same band that made a name on Sunset Strip in the early 80’s and 90’s. A lot of the old songs are still with them too ‘Rum & Coke’ and ‘Ballad of Johnny’ from 1992’s Influence album for example and their Rockified version of ‘Chain of Fools’ made a dent in Billboards Hot 100 when it first came out for them.
Songs from their new CD were of the same high calibre for getting the audience shuffling their feet as the earlier foot tappers. Sleazy riffs and meaty rythm rule, as on ‘Sick & Tired’ or the Status Quo boogie riff of ‘Real Rock Child’. This is how live RnB/Rock music should be! Like Britains Dr Feelgood the music transcends age. Guitarist Loren Molinare shakes his body like he’s plugged into the mains in place of his guitar at times – reminiscent of Wilko Johnson in his manic movements. Bassist Fidel Paniagua, ZZ Top sunglasses and beard, looks cool and Ron Young has the sort of Rock voice that would give him a gig with any Rock band in the world. From the first note of ‘opener ‘Rock n Roll’ to the closing one on finisher ‘Down to the Wire’ this was a powerhouse of a show.
A word of praise too for the light show. There’s always a bit more colour when Rockpalast is in town and this was no exception. The Harmonie really does know how to literally put on a show and once again WDR had a feast for it’s cameras.
The music is what counts of course though and it’s difficult not to like a band that enjoys playing as much as Little Caesar so clearly do. The Harmonie becomes their Living room and the audience is friends who are passing through. It’s only Rock n Roll. Or is it? Young makes reference to the power of music. Do AC/DC really sing such poetic lyrics as “She was like the Venus di Milo with arms”? Is Young serious, or taking the p*ss? Who knows? Who cares? this is Rock n Roll. “Life is short so enjoy yourself” as Molinare points out. To which I might add that there is no better place to enjoy yourself than at a Little Caesar concert.
Sometimes the old ones really are the best!