Chris Caffery, guitarist for Savatage and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, played the first gig of his solo tour recently at the BB King Blues Club in New York City in support of his recent CD Faces. Billed the "It's All Good Tour", the show also saw sets from The Alex Skolnick Trio, ZO2, Steve Broderick, Katrina Chester.
Sea of Tranquility's Ken Pierce and Pete Pardo were in attendance and report in with their review of the show!
Savatage's own Chris Caffery was onstage once again and this time it would
not be with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Supporting his debut solo CD
Faces, Chris would be joined by his band and be kicking some serious Hard
Rock ass tonight. Here's how it all went down at this show which was billed
as "It's All Good". The title held in back of it the fact that all of the featured bands would have players that are in some fashion associated with the holiday juggernaut that is the TSO. It was a great idea but you really had to understand the logic behind this mini festival of friends before going in. If you had reservations about it you clearly did not get the point that they were trying to make. The roster for the night would be Steve Broderick, Katrina Chester, Z02, Alex Skolnick Trio and Chris Caffery.
The evening was kicked off by Broderick and Chester whom I did not get to see; as a result you must look for those details elsewhere. I made it just as Z02 was up to deliver their high energy brand of Rock and Roll. These guys featuring the Brothers Z would perform the majority of their independent release Tuesdays And Thursdays. The Z02 Boys are all about energy and really seem to have a great time performing for their fans. When leader Paul performs and sings you could tell he was a very big fan of a
famous starry-eyed front man. I should make reference that he used to play
him in a KISS tribute act not long ago. Bassist Dave and drummer Joe held the rhythms in check and sang along with every number. This harmony adds to the ease of appreciating their material and I have to admit I enjoyed them more at this show than when I caught a brief bit of their set at the KISS show last year.
The Alex Skolnick Trio was next and this was indeed a treat for me, as I have just recently reviewed and enjoyed their latest CD entitled Transformation. This Magnatude release is comprised of re-worked Metal classics done in jazz form along with some originals. Alex and his band are absolutely dynamite live and are a recommended act to see if you are in the mood for a very interesting change of pace. I was really impressed with how well this stuff came off in a live setting, but I should have expected as much from Alex. As a guitarist he is one of the revered greats and a blistering performer. He truly showcases that his skill holds no bounds as he plays Jazz in as furious a manner as he plays Metal. His set was given to me by a Street Team Organizer as I was too busy shooting photos to jot notes down at the same time. While I could have sworn he played "Electric Eye", I did not see it listed. Instead I was shown that he did "Highway Star", "Transformation", "Fear Of Flying", "Detroit Rock City", "Both Feet
In" and "War Pigs". This is really an act you should take the effort to see, as there is something in this music than anyone can enjoy.
Alex Skolnick Trio
Pete Pardo-While it may have seemed to be an odd pairing to have Skolnick's jazz trio on the same bill with Chris Caffery and his classic metal sounds, his set went over very well, as it was obvious that many in attendance were musicians who really appreciated talent, whether it be jazz or metal. Plus Skolnick is a legend in the metal industry thanks to his past work with Testament, Savatage, as well as TSO. Seeing his trio is kind of like catching the Mike Stern Band down on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village at the 55 Bar. Alex just closes his eyes and rips through jazz versions of metal classics as well as his own material like he would a jazz standard, and the fire in his playing is just as potent as when he used to play scorching metal licks. This set was a swinging good time, and I'll be on the lookout to catch these guys again next time they come to town.
Chris Caffery Band
When it was time for Chris Caffery the club was at its most crowded, and while there was a nice number of diehard Chris fans I expected several dozen more. This was a big show and given it was NYC I felt there could have been more support. Still, those that did come were ardent fans and they got the chance to enjoy the surprises while others could only read about it. Tim Cain came out to excite the crowd about Chris coming on next and it was a cool thing to see him. Tim at one time was the Narrator for the
Trans-Siberian Orchestra. I felt it was a nice thing to see Cain bring on his good Friend Chris for the first show he was doing and in New York no less. Joining Chris in the band would be Jeff Plate (Savatage /TSO and his solo CD) as well as Paul LaPlaca, Brandon Cook and Nick Douglas (on guitars and bass respectively). Chris would deliver a long set for this show and I admired that especially being the main band in a show of 5 bands. Love him or not, this is a long night to deal with but he really wanted everyone to
have a lot to remember. As you can see by browsing the list of tunes Chris would pretty much focus on the Faces and God Damn War CD rather than do more
Savatage material. In all honesty I would have liked more Savatage in his main set rather than as the encores only. Chris does the vocals so well when he does it and getting to hear more classic tunes with this lineup would have been interesting.
Chris also had Paul Morris on keyboards for a couple of songs and Mark Wood on electric violin for "Saddamize" from the GDW CD. Overall the material from his CD went over like gangbusters and holds up very well in a live situation. I admit I expected this much from him, for Chris has spent so many years of his life in touring bands that he should know what works and what does not by now. All of my favorites from the solo piece were
performed and there was even a little audience participation on "Pisses Me Off", the part about that famous coffee company (who shall remain nameless). Fans of the man from his Savatage days and who admire the heavier aspect of the TSO should watch their calendars to see when he is near your town for it is a fun ride.
Pete Pardo- For all his pre-show nervousness, when Chris and his band hit the stage it was like a veteran ensemble firing on all cylinders. Now that Chris handles lead vocals as well as lead guitar, he has been forced to become a frontman for the first time in his career, and as proven on this night in New York City, he is made for the role. Not only has Chris written some great songs on his first solo album, but they are songs that are so perfect for the stage. Tunes like "Faces", "Pisses Me Off", "The Mold", 'Fade Into the X" and 'God Damn War" are all metal anthems, and when the guitarist settled in front of a microphone with his acoustic guitar for "Music Man", he brought out another new facet to his repertoire. It's called entertainment folks, and in metal you need to do more than just play a mean guitar, which Chris did in spades (his wild solo on "Preludio" was killer), but his combination of melodic hooks, crunchy riffs, virtuoso leads, and strong vocals made this first night an all around success. While the crowd was perhaps a bit smaller than he would have liked, Chris seemed happy that those in attendance knew the lyrics to every song, banged their heads in unison, and just truly had a great time. There's no doubt that Chris Caffery will be back many more times in the years to come, as the future looks real bright for this rising star.
Backstage with Ken Pierce, Chris Caffery, and Pete Pardo
1. Alas - intro
3. Edge Of Darkness
5. God Damn War
6. Saddamize - w/ Paul Morris and Mark Wood
7. Amazing Grace -w/ Paul Morris
8. Bridges - w/ Paul, Paul and Mark Wood - acoustic
9. Music Man - w/Paul Morris -acoustic
10. The Mold
11. Fade Into The X
12. Pisses Me Off
15. Sirens - encore
16. Power Of The Night - encore