Blue Oyster Cult & Vanilla Fudge
River Spirit Event Center
March 18, 2016
By Jeb Wright
Blue Oyster Cult Set List:
The Red & the Black | Golden Age of Leather | Burnin' for You | Shooting Shark | The Vigil | ME 262 | Buck's Boogie | Then Came the Last Days of May | Godzilla | Guitar Solo (Buck Dharma) | (Don't Fear) The Reaper
Cities on Flame With Rock and Roll
Vanilla Fudge Set List
I'm a Believer | Break On Through (to the Other Side) | People Get Ready | Take Me For a Little While | Gimme Some Lovin' | Shotgun | You Keep Me Hangin' On
ON YOUR FEET OR ON YOUR KNEES!!
The mighty Blue Oyster Cult continued their ON TOUR FOREVER with a stop in Tulsa, Oklahoma on a Friday night. Joining them for the gig were 1960s staple Vanilla Fudge, featuring one of the most amazing drummers of all time, Carmine Appice.
The River Spirit Event Center is one of those cool casino places where visiting gamblers can spend enough money and hope to be comp’d to events. In typical casino fashion, the seats are pretty comfy, the stage is solid and the sound is great. There are lots of choices when it comes to eating and drinking and, with this age group, there is little in the way of pushing, shoving and fighting. Other than two hot blondes who kept seat-hopping closer to the stage and a couple of drunk idiots, this was a show where most folks wanted to be there to enjoy some kick ass rock ‘n’ roll—and that’s just what happened .
Vanilla Fudge, or V-Fudge (I think that makes them sound more current) opened up with the Neal Diamond penned and Monkees-made-famous tune “I’m a Believer.” The band featured the song on their latest album titled Spirit of ’67. It’s a great opener and the way the Fudge warp classic tunes into their own is still freaking cool, even five decades down the road.
I better back up. For those younger people reading this article, Vanilla Fudge is a cool-ass band. They are talented. The band members can all sing their ass off and they play pretty good, too. They had a cool hook that made them famous. For the most part they take huge hits and then put them into a blender, mix in that special Vanilla Fudge sauce and pour it all out on stage in a new, and often, improved manner. Such is the case with “I’m a Believer.”
The only non-original member on this night was bassist Pete Bremy on bass. In addition to being the bass player for Vanilla Fudge for the last five years, Pete is also a member of Cactus with Carmine Appice. Guitarist/vocalist Vince Martell, lead vocalist/keyboardist Mark Stein and drummer/vocalist Carmine Appice are true rock icons... and they kinda know it. Not in an arrogant way. But they understand they’ve weathered the storm and survived nearly 50 years in the crazy world of rock ‘n’ roll music. They don’t mind getting onstage and proving they ‘still have it’, either. Despite some equipment issues, Stein belted out vocals while pumping that organ pedal and waving his left arm around when he hit a big note.
Appice is just a cool dude. I hope when I grow up I am as cool as this guy. He commands respect from both band members and the audience. I had somehow forgot the guy could sing as well as he does. He took the lead on “People Get Ready” which was probably the most emotive song of the evening. Guitarist Vince Martell is a solid player and a damn fine singer. He was sporting love for Jesus on his jean jacket and it’s damn fine to see him still sporting the long hair as well. These fellas are the real deal, a throwback to the era... yet despite their age, they still have tons of talent and passion for their music. “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” was the one that EVERYONE knew and drew the most applause. Many BOC fans may not have been well versed with Vanilla Fudge, as the bands were from different decades, but anyone who was paying attention was won over by the groups’ abilities and energy. After the show they met with, took pictures with and autographed items for the fans. These guys are living legends so they didn’t NEED to do that. But they wanted to, which says a lot for the type of guys these guys are. I better note that Carmine killed a drum solo on the Junior Walker classic “Shotgun.” Appice, who has played with everyone over the years, still remains a drummer’s drummer, and still has that bad-ass mustache!
After a short break it was time for the evening’s headline entertainment, Long Island’s own Blue Oyster Cult. The band is made up of founding member Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser on guitar/vocals, original member Eric Bloom on vocals/guitar/keyboards, guitarist Richie Castellano and drummer Jules Radino (who’ve both been hanging around since 2004), and newcomer Kasim Sulton, who you may know from Meat Loaf and Utopia... Kasim joined the band in 2012.
The band tossed out an 11-song set that, for most bands would have been a 15 song set. The reason being two songs contain massive guitar solos! Buck and Ritchie went toe-to-toe on the sublime “Shooting Shark” and the classic tune “Then Came the Last Days of May.” Ritchie wins when it comes to sheer technical ability and outrageous guitar face. Buck wins with the use of melody, and for composing some of the best solos of the 1970s and ‘80s. Dharma has great chops, and he does what he does, and sounds like only he can sound. Castellano allows the rock icon center stage, but when he unleashes his own soloing skills, it’s pretty damn breathtaking. Hell, I wish they would have done solos like this on every song!
The set began with one for the hardcore fans in “The Red & the Black.” This song is just too cool and helped set the foundation for the classic BOC vibe. Next up, it was time for the Blue Oyster Faithful to raise a beer and sing along the opening toast to the tune “Golden Age of Leather.” I am very glad the band put this tune back in the set list. The song just rocks, plain and simple. It’s a great tune indeed, and Buck rips this one open during the middle section. Next up came the aforementioned “Shooting Shark” and the guitar battle. Bassist Sulton is heavily featured on this number as well.
“The Vigil” is a rocking song from the 1980 album Mirrors. Some BOC uber fans do not like that album, and I have always wondered why? “The Vigil” is one of the biggest riffs in BOC history and it stands the test of time. The song has plenty of light and shade to make it fun live and, once again, Buck blasts this solo into the stratosphere. Old school fans were hyped up with “ME262” and “Buck’s Boogie” back-to-back in the set. Next came “Last Days of May” from the self-titled debut. I sound like a broken record but, the guitar solos… the guitar solos and the guitar solos!
The end of the set came with the same spiel Eric Bloom has been doing for decades. The Lizard King, the ‘Zilla God… complete with the part he speaks in Japanese took the energy level in the room to a new level. After the powerful song Dharma, once again, played, you guessed it… a guitar solo! Okay, it was more of an elongated intro, but it was still damn fine! The band returned to the stage and bashed out “[Don’t Fear) The Reaper.” This is one of those timeless songs that has everyone singing along regardless is they are 75 or 17. It is always a magical moment when this tune takes over the audience and stage.
The houselights came up after the band left the stage, but cheers of “BOC… BOC… BOC” continued until they shut them off again. The band came back out and delivered the classic tune from their first album “Cities on Flame” that saw the big fans—the real ones—not having to be coaxed to shout out “with rock ‘n’ roll” in response, each time after the title was sung.
The only thing that could have made this night better is if each band would have played longer sets! The drawback to a casino gig is that they want the audience back in the casino pressing buttons on slot machines, so time is of essence.
Blue Oyster Cult would do their hardcore fans a solid if they would sneak out “Veteran of Psychic Wars,” “Dr. Music,” “Mirrors,” “In Thee,” “Astronomy,” “Flaming Telepaths” or “R.U. Ready 2 Rock” in the set once in a while. That said, this was a fun night of rock ‘n’ roll featuring two bands that are both worthy of the ‘icon’ moniker.
Suffice it to say that if either come around here, I will be in the audience… so should you!