Despite being mostly known for his acting roles in numerous movies and TV series, from Miami Vice to Seinfeld, Murdoc, MacGyver or Melrose Place, Michael Des Barres has been around rock & roll all his life: in the ‘70s, he formed the band Detective which recorded 2 albums which were released on Led Zeppelin’s Records label, in the ‘80s, he was part of Chequerel Past with Steve Jones, Blondie’s Clem Burke and Nigel Harrison and Tony Sales, and he even replaced Robert Palmer in the band Power Station, a Duran Duran side project, which he fronted at the 1985 Live Aid concert. And this is just a short cut of his career, he also played in Vince Lightning and the Spectaculars which included Stray Cats’ Slim Jim Phantom, in a band called The Usual Suspects with Steve Jones and Mick Rossi, and in a band called Down Boy with Paul McCartney’s guitarist Brian Ray. There were also the Michael Des Barres and Free Love Foundation, The Michael Des Barres Band, and I am not even mentioning his solo stuff and his DJ job on Little Steven’s Underground Garage on SiriusXM Radio. But maybe his most famous job was being the husband of socialite and rock star groupie Pamela Des Barres for 13 years: this definitively gives him a rock star status, I suppose.
Michael Des Barres is 71 and still rocking, and why wouldn’t he when Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney are still doing stadium tours at 76? He has a new band, Michael Des Barres and The Mistakes, and, on Friday night, this Euro marquis (yes, he really is one) rocked the House of Machines, sweating his ass off during a set of his own material and a few covers.
Two young rock bands opened the show, Jack Cash and The Long Haul followed by the Hots, two bands which have apparently not given up on good old guitar-driven rock & roll. The House of Machines always finds these young bands which are still living the rocker’s life, while attracting a crowd covered of tattoos below their leather jackets, reading to jump on their motorcycles after the last monster riffs. The old leitmotiv ‘rock & roll is dead’ surely doesn’t ring true the days I visit the venue, watching young bands totally embracing the myth, like these two.
The energy was high and the guitars were distorted during Jack Cash and the Long Haul’s entire set. They had a true thirst for rock & roll, hitting very hard on the drums and playing it tough with a sort of vengeful energy. Singer Jack Cash showed plenty of enthusiasm with a forceful collection of hard-rocking songs releasing tension with roaring guitar solos. They even added more guitars at the end of the set for unbridled and shirtless hard numbers, filled with guitar riffs piling up over rawness and landing between aggression and ache.
The well-named Aussie rockers the Hots had decided to stay with the same theme, as they were not going to cool down the venue a bit. Fronted by sexy singer Foxie Kelly, who was rocking a zipper black jumpsuit, they were sweating ’80s Sunset Strip rock & roll, with images of Easy Rider and flames appearing on the screen behind the stage. With his very familiar hairdo, guitarist Ronnie Simmons could simply have been mistaken for a surviving Ramone, especially when he was taking all the right poses, playing legs apart and doing the splits in the air. I was not surprised to read he had played guitar for Richie Ramone and members of Hollywood Vampires among other famous bands. While they were adopting perfect old-fashioned rock & roll moves, Foxie’s powerhouse was rising over self-combustible hooks, as her vocals sounded like a mix of ferocious howls and sexy kitten shrieks, channeling decades of fronting female from Joan Jett to Pat Benatar. Unsurprisingly, their hard-rocking and heavy-hitting brand of music has materialized in an EP produced by Australian Mark Opitz, who also made AC/DC’s ‘Powerage’, and if they are certainly not trying to be the next hard rock band fronted by a female, they had enough attitude to keep the attention of the crowd.
During a very tight set, Michael Des Barres certainly didn’t show any sign of slowing down the show, and he gave us a taste of loud and sweaty rock and roll with his new band The Mistakes, composed of The Dogs’ Loren Molinare on guitar, Erik Himel on guitar, Paul Ill on bass and Matt Starr on drums. He was jumping around the stage, screaming his heart out, while a first song, ‘You Gotta Serve Somebody’ was exuding that special brand of testosterone-fueled rock & roll influenced by the Stooges and greasy garage rock from Detroit. The hooks were loud while the guitar battles were played in a true arena-rock style, powerful and even over-the-top, but if rock & roll is a performance, there is no better candidate than an actor to front it.
Encouraging photographers to take photos, with a ‘I look very photogenic’, Des Barres has not lost his sense of humor, ‘I’m 70 and I weigh the same that I did when I was 19 on a Jagger level’, he said in an interview. This appeared to be right on, he looked very fit, in great shape, not even out of breath after an athletic cover of T. Rex’s ‘Get It On’, or a ferocious rendition of the Silverhead classic ‘Hello New York’, followed by another classic of his band Detective, ‘Detective Man’. In a very Jagger style, this man barely took a break, even when they covered the Supremes’ ‘Stop! In the Name of Love’, playing an all-buffed-up version with dramatic rock guitars, pounding drums, and a lot of screaming. With shades of Led Zeppelin, ‘Little Latin Lover’ and ‘Sixteen and Savaged’ were maddening numbers which kept the music gritty, bluesy, raw and real till the end,… Without reinventing rock & roll, Michael Des Barres and the Mistakes’ performance was at least renewing faith in its resurrection.
Setlist (Michael Des Barres and the Mistakes)
You Gotta Serve Somebody
Living in the USA
What’s Going on (Marvin Gaye)
Crackle and Hiss
Get it On (T Rex)
Hello New York
Stop in the Name of Love (The Supremes)
Little Latin Lover
16 and Savaged
Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – June 1975 (Volume 7, Number 1)
Smith’s final freelance contribution to Creem.
putting Nigeria on the map
back at # 1 for a third non consecutive week
not a dreamer but a steely eyed businessman and pop musician
Willie Nelson will play at the Palomino fest on Saturday
Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – May 1975 (Volume 6, Number 12
Elton John came across as completely engaging
by episode nine, season four, the bastards finally got me sick of Kate!
some hooky and wildly inspired tune
Harry has the summer of his career!