Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Blue Öyster Cult thrills capacity crowd at the Coach House

Blue Öyster Cult performing at the Coach House on Dec. 7, 2019. Pictured from left, Eric Bloom,
Richie Castellano,  Donald 'Buck Dharma' Roeser and Danny Miranda.
Photo: Bob Steshetz

Blue Öyster Cult, Justin Abrams & Beyond Conception
Where: The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, CA
When: Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019
Next: http://blueoystercult.com

After seeing Blue Öyster Cult tear it up in front of a capacity crowd at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on Saturday night (Dec. 7, 2019), this writer was reminded (yet again!) why the band is one of the most influential and talented American rock groups to emerge out of the late 1960s. Yet while the New York-spawned troupe has sold more than 24 million records worldwide, contributed to the music video revolution in the early 1980s and continues to regularly tour, they have sadly never been nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Richie Castellano unleashing a solo at the Coach House.
But I predict history will land squarely on the side of BÖC, whose current lineup includes founding members Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser (lead vocals, lead guitar) and Eric Bloom (guitar, keyboards, lead vocals) along with long-time lead guitarist/keyboardist Richie Castellano, bassist-backing singer Danny Miranda and drummer Jules Radino

The band's 100-minute concert at the Coach House featured a stellar setlist featuring all their best-known radio hits, as well as deep cuts extending as far back as BÖC's 1972 self-titled debut album through the group's 1998 LP Heaven Forbid.

Buck Dharma conjuring up genuine magic during a sold out concert
at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, CA on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019.

After coming out on stage at 9:15 p.m., the band unleashed the enduring rocker "The Red & the Black," Bloom handling lead vocals while Dharma displayed the first of many impressive guitar solos that would be showcased this night.
Eric Bloom at the Coach House.

BÖC's style may be rooted in progressive rock and early heavy metal, but trying to use any simple label to categorize the band is at odds with their rousing, wide-ranging performance in Orange County. Indeed, the quintet opened up "Golden Age of Leather" with a full-on a cappella segment where four members sang without any instrumental accompaniment to introduce the song. Dharma's strong lead vocals came amidst a creative and ambitious six-minute early standout.

"Burnin' for You" was one of the first great rock songs of the 1980s (as was the song's music video that received heavy rotation on MTV when the station premiered in 1981) and retains its magic decades later. On Saturday, the infectious track was bolstered by shining vocal harmonies and a driving edge layered with winning guitar textures. 

"Harvest Moon" was another standout with Bloom's keyboards and Dharma's expressive lead guitar work adding a sense of mystery to the song. At one point Dharma's guitar work was played sans backing from anyone else before the full band came in and his solo became more aggressive. Then Castellano did a solo before their lead work came in tandem for a dramatic explosion of sound.

Every selection performed offered an opportunity to catch another element of BÖC's progressive reach; "E.T.I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)" blended hard rock and sumptuous harmonies; "Tattoo Vampire" juxtaposed Cheap Trick-styled power pop and Iggy Pop alt rock; "Godzilla" was a fun audience favorite with monster sound effects, an audience sing-along, Dharma's guitar sliding on a microphone stand and Miranda's bass solo among the far-flung details in play.
BÖC Drummer Jules Radino at the Coach House.

"(Don't Fear) The Reaper" is the band's best-known song and its performance was a highlight at the Coach House. Introducing the favorite with an extended Dharma solo, Castellano's textured keyboards and Radino's drums were subliminally added. The classic rocker itself was a wonder with its haunting soundscape coupled with virtuoso musicianship, masterful fret work and sharp vocal harmonies.

A 15-minute encore was a chance for BÖC to delve even deeper into their discography, performing "Flaming Telepaths," "Hot Rails to Hell" and the playful "Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll," the latter coming with an epic false ending that made the subsequent real finish all the stronger.

Opening for BÖC was local group Justin Abrams & Beyond Conception. Although a cover of Elton John's "Bennie and the Jets" was didn't resonate with me the outfit's originals were plenty of fun. The loose garage rocker "Stix & Stones" and New York-flavored rocker "Rip It Off" were particularly memorable. 

Review by Robert Kinsler

Photography by Bob Steshetz

Blue Öyster Cult performing at the Coach House on Dec. 7, 2019. Pictured from left,
Richie Castellano,  
Eric Bloom, Donald 'Buck Dharma' Roeser, Jules Radino and Danny Miranda. 
Photo: Bob Steshetz

Blue Öyster Cult setlist at the Coach House on Saturday, December 7, 2019
Buck Dharma (guitar) and
Eric Bloom (keyboards) at the
Coach House on Dec. 7, 2019.
1. The Red & the Black 
2. Golden Age of Leather
3. Career of Evil
4. Burnin' for You
5. ME 262
6. Harvest Moon
7. Dancin' in the Ruins
8. E.T.I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)
9. Buck's Boogie
10. Then Came the Last Days of May
11. Tattoo Vampire
12. Godzilla
13. Guitar solo (Buck Dharma)
14. (Don't Fear) The Reaper
15. Flaming Telepaths
16. Hot Rails to Hell
17. Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll

1 comment:

Ralph said...

Are you CERTAIN they used the Game of Thrones theme at the start of this gig?? The night before - as well as the night after - this gig they were using the new Mandalorian Theme music...