Friday, June 21, 2019

Richie Kotzen @ Seine Musicale, Boulogne - June 21st, 2019

Opening for ZZ TOP last night was Richie Kotzen,  a name I hadn't heard in a long time. He is perhaps more famous nowadays for having replaced CC Deville in Poison in the early nineties when the band was trying to shed their glam-metal party boys image. He also replaced Paul Gilbert in Mr. Big for a few years, and he's been fronting The Winery Dogs with two other monster virtuosos, Billy Sheehan and Mike Portnoy. So while I was always aware of him, I never really dug into his catalogue: my assumption was that he was just another shredder from the Mike Varney stable and I was never big into that scene. But last night's set showed me what I'd been missing: fronting a power trio of equally amazing musicians, Richie was simply fantastic.

The tunes were great: simple, well written hard rock songs with a soul/blues edge, and the playing was superb. Evidently very inspired by Hendrix and his bluesy touch (but isn't everyone?), he never veered into ostentatious, demonstrative shredding even during some of his most acrobatic solos. But the biggest surprise for me was Richie's voice: supple, powerful and full of soul, it's at least as impressive as his guitar playing. This was the perfect opening act and I'm looking forward to seeing him headline in a smaller venue, and delve into an extensive back catalogue that I had so far unjustly neglected.

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