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ConcertsZebra Comes Back to New York on June 28th to BB Kings!

Posted on Sunday, July 22 2007 @ 07:24:23 CDT by Pete Pardo
Progressive Rock

While they might have begun their career in New Orleans, LA Zebra became an official New York band as far as Long Island was concerned when they relocated there so many years ago. At the time they were primarily an original band that also played some killer Led Zeppelin tunes and it was before they had secured their record deal. In those early days, the Long Island music scene was a hotbed of activity and had launched bands like the Good Rats and most notably Twisted Sister. There are others that are too numerous to name but it makes for some great investigation and needless to say Zebra was quickly one of the favorites out of all the Long Island scene groups. Blockbuster performances in sold out rooms and an ever expanding fan base led to the bands signing to Atlantic Records and their self-titled debut was a terrific display of Hard Rock with a slightly Progressive edge. The bands Zep influences were very apparent around the album and as a touring entity they continually played to packed houses. Music fans could do no wrong with Zebra. After thirty plus years of performing the band has never compromised their sound or lost touch with their diehard group of fans. When you see a Zebra show, everyone around you is a fan who knows their stories and career and every single note of their music. Tonight, the venerated B.B. King Blues Club would host the band for an evening of music and it would be my first time seeing the band in this venue, and also the first time I had been to one of their gigs in far too long. The last time I caught them would be at the now closed Downtown in Farmingdale, NY.

Read on for Ken Pierce's concert review!

For those that know B.B. King's, you are aware of how it hosts shows that are standing room only and others that are sit-down performances. Tonight's show would be a sit down event but there is always room by the sidelines and back bar for those who wish to rock out. As I walked in I was impressed that it was completely sold out and not a space at any table could be found should I have wanted one. It was then that I decided to be one of those who would rock out on the sidelines. Zebra is only three guys with Randy Jackson on lead guitar and vocals, Felix Hanneman on bass, keyboards and vocals and Guy Gelso on drums. Tonight's performance would find Guy absent and in his place the one and only Bobby Rondinelli. We've seen Rondinelli most recently in Blue Oyster Cult and The Lizards but he is most known for his tenure in both Rainbow and Black Sabbath. I could not think of a better drummer to be sitting in for this material tonight. After a brief set by an energetic Rock group called J-Rad, it was time for Zebra to hit the stage. Radio's Eddie Trunk came out to introduce them as he had just had them on his popular program "Friday Night Rocks" and the crowd was screaming their lungs out for the guys as they began. Their opener would be "As I Said Before" which has been their usual opening track for some years from the first album and as soon as they did it you would find that they sound almost exactly as they do on the record. You don't find this to be the case with most bands and outside of Rush who is dead on from their recorded works, it's an impressive thing to note when the band does not let you down with their performance skills. Randy really seems to be able to pull out all the stops with his vocals from soothing mellow tones to shrieking high notes that you would think could break glass if they had to. Felix would be holding it steady along on the bass and adding some superb backing vocals to Randy's lead and through it all Rondinelli was shining from behind the drum kit. I really enjoy Gelso's playing and was sorry he could not be here but I had to admit Bobby was really doing the material proud. He had all the parts down and added that flair that he is known for on his own. The set tonight would be a cornucopia of stuff that many might have expected and then a decent amount of music that no one could have seen coming at all. The band has four studio albums under their belt and as result they would present songs from each of them but the larger part of the very loaded set would be from their debut release. I didn't mind this at all since "Take Your Fingers From My Hair" and "Who's Behind The Door" are among my favorites on the album outside of the lead off single. As each tune was performed we would find the response from the audience to be quite receptive and you know that this is felt right up on the stage by the guys.

The surprises would come in the form of several covers that brought us back to the early days of the band's act. They would do a little Led Zeppelin for us along with some Animals and even throw in a classic David Bowie number and this particular inclusion just knocked me for a loop. With Zebra is almost a given to hear them do "The Ocean" by the Zeps but to hear them do a version of "Ziggy Stardust" was just a superb treat for me. During the set Randy would speak to the crowd and you find him to be a very accommodating dude who really loves doing this for the people after all these years. We would also get the chance to hear Felix sing during "Rock Candy" which comes from his own solo album and is a solid Rock number with a classic edge. Lucky for everyone present tonight we would witness a kick ass drum solo from Rondinelli who as I have said on a number of occasions is one of the finest Hard Rock players around. There was not an ounce of disappointment in anyone's heart tonight as the set ran close to two hours if not more and featured some twenty six songs. OK, I admit that I was a tad bummed that they did not do "La La Song", but to find some material I never heard them do at shows and those covers more than made up for this omission. We can always listen to the live CD if we want that song for the time being. They played "Tell Me What You Want" a little earlier than I expected them to since this is a perfect closer and usually brings down the house at a Zebra set but tonight they would close out with the cover material. I don't think anyone minded.

The band did great tonight and at the close of the show everyone was on their feet. I'm not sure if they had ever played here before but to my knowledge they had not, so my hope is that the response and draw shown tonight will find them returning a little more regularly. If you are a fan of good old Hard Rock with a strong Melodic sense and great riffs then get yourself to a show when they are in town. The band has also released a new DVD which features concert footage that was shot over the last three or four years. Watch for a review of it on these pages and know in advance this is something you should look into.

Set List
1. As I Said Before
2. Light Of My Love
3. KK Is Hiding
4. When You Get There
5. Wait Until The Summer's Gone
6. My Life Has Changed
7. Slow Down
8. Arabian Nights
9. Rock Candy
10. House Of The Rising Sun
11. The Ocean
12. One More Chance
13. Take Your Fingers From My Hair
14. Rondinelli Drum Solo
15. Bears
16. He's Making You The Fool
17. Randy Acoustic Solo
18. Who's Behind The Door
19. You Better Not Call
20. Tell Me What You Want
21. Don't Walk Away
22. Whole Lotta Love (start)
23. What Is And What Should Never Be
24. Ziggy Stardust
25. Immigrant Song
26. Whole Lotta Love (end)

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